Tuesday, April 12, 2005

standing on the shoulders of giants

Intellectually speaking, iron sharpens iron. Vigorous debate among mental giants redounds to the benefit of us all. As a capitalist, I’m grateful to those who fought in the trenches to resist the scourge of collectivist ideology. As it happens, rather counter intuitively, the renowned Objectivist, Ayn Rand and subjective economic theorist, Ludwig von Mises may not have had completely different ideas.
According to Rand, life itself is an objective value. "Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. . . . An organism's life is its standard of value." (318) Richard C. B. Johnson reconciles the controversy over subjective vs. objective values by defining two distinct roles for ethics and economics. "[T]he science of economics should focus on trying to find objective economic principles, but in doing so should avoid the ethical dimension, leaving it to the science of philosophy. This seems only to be possible by treating the ultimate ends . . . of people as given—they might as well be totally subjective—and instead study the means by which people try to reach their ends. Making this distinction would keep the economic science objective as well, i.e., wertfrei, just as Mises claims. And values of ultimate ends still could be objective, as well as those of means, perfectly in accordance with Rand."