An Introduction to Austrian Economics

A Course with Patrick Barron

October 1 through October 22, 2009

This course will review the tenets of classical, nineteenth-century, free market liberalism.  Starting with universally accepted laws of human action, such as that man acts purposefully, an elegant structure of economic theory emerged based upon the sanctity of the individual’s person and property.  Although these theories date back to the Middle Ages, late nineteenth century Austrian economists began systematically to integrate the theories into what is now a school of economic thought that continues to gain worldwide adherents.

As understood by the Austrian school, economics is a science of logic, proceeding from undeniable principles of the nature of man and the physical world to arrive at a new understanding of the rational way to cope with the world of scarcity and uncertainty.  The Austrians emphasize the importance of economic freedom as an essential ingredient in economic prosperity.  Furthermore, economic freedom is part and parcel of man’s political freedom; thus Austrians see the proper role of government as one that defends life, liberty, and property.

This four week course will explain the Austrian view of the primacy of the division of labor as the source of all economic progress, from which many economic principles follow, such as the necessity of exchange, the price system, and capital accumulation among other central topics.