My Mises Philosophy Seminar

In the summer of 2006 I gave a seminar at the Mises Institute on the praxeological foundations of libertarian ethics. To quote from the original announcement:

On the one hand, the subjective-value approach to economics characteristic of the Austrian school might seem inhospitable to objective theories of ethical value. Yet on the other hand, philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, and Aquinas based their objective conceptions of ethics on something rather like a praxeological analysis of subjective valuation; indeed, subjectivist economics and natural law ethics both originated from this common tradition. Can an objective ethics in a broadly Aristotelian tradition be grounded in praxeological considerations? And if so, what shape might a radical libertarian political theory take if built on such foundations?

The first half of the seminar will deal with the praxeological foundations of ethics. Topics include: do human beings have an ultimate end? can we knowingly choose the bad? how are morality and self-interest related? why should we care about other people’s interests? ...

The second half of the seminar will explore the implications of praxeological, Aristotelean ethics for such issues as property rights, contracts, land ownership, punishment and restitution, military policy, stateless legal systems, utilitarian vs. rights-based considerations, and the cultural preconditions of liberty.

Here are links to the recordings:

Prelude: Economics and Its Ethical Assumptions: [text] [2005 audio] [2007 audio] [2009 audio] [[2010 audio]

I. From Praxeology to Ethics

1. Objective and Subjective Value: [audio] [video]

2. The Praxeological Case for an Ultimate End: [audio] [video]

3. Free Will: Two Paradoxes of Choice: [audio] [video]

4. The Moral Standpoint: [audio] [video]

5. An Aristotelean Ethics of Virtue: [audio] [video]

II. From Ethics to Liberty

6. Justice, Rights, and Consequences: [audio] [video]

7. Property, Land, Contract: [audio] [video]

8. Punishment and War: [audio] [video]

9. Culture and Liberty: [audio] [video]

10. An Anarchist Legal Order: [audio] [video]

[Accompanying handouts]

This seminar will shortly be released in book form, as Austro-Athenian Foundations of Libertarian Ethics, from the Molinari Institute. To be notified when the book is available, send a note to that effect to

Additional reading:

Review of Leland Yeager’s Ethics As Social Science

Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?

Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand