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Austrian School of Economics, Peter J. Boettke
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The historical school, on the other hand, had argued that economic science is incapable of generating universal principles and that scientific research should instead be focused on detailed historical examination. The historical school thought the English classical economists mistaken in believing in economic laws that transcended time and national boundaries. Menger’s Principles of Economics restated the classical political economy view of universal laws and did so using marginal analysis. Roscher’s students, especially Gustav Schmoller, took great exception to Menger’s defense of “theory” and gave the work of Menger and his followers, eugen böhm-bawerk and Friedrich Wieser, the derogatory name “Austrian school” because of their faculty positions at the University of Vienna. The term stuck.


Since the 1930s, no economists from the University of Vienna or any other Austrian university have become leading figures in the so-called Austrian school of economics. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Austrian school moved to Britain and the United States, and scholars associated with this approach to economic science were located primarily at the London School of Economics (1931–1950), New York University (1944–), Auburn University (1983–), and George Mason University (1981–). Many of the ideas of the leading mid-twentieth-century Austrian economists, such as ludwig von mises and f. a. hayek, are rooted in the ideas of classical economists such as adam smith and david hume, or early-twentieth-century figures such as knut wicksell, as well as Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, and Friedrich von Wieser. This diverse mix of intellectual traditions in economic science is even more obvious in contemporary Austrian school economists, who have been influenced by modern figures in economics. These include armen alchian, james buchanan, ronald coase, Harold Demsetz, Axel Leijonhufvud, douglass north, Mancur Olson, vernon smith, Gordon Tullock, Leland Yeager, and Oliver Williamson, as well as Israel Kirzner and Murray Rothbard. While one could argue that a unique Austrian school of economics operates within the economic profession today, one could also sensibly argue that the label “Austrian” no longer possesses any substantive meaning. In this article I concentrate on the main propositions about economics that so-called Austrians believe.