Praxeology is a framework for modeling human action. The term was coined and defined as "The science of human action" in 1890 by Alfred Espinas in the "Revue Philosophique," but the most common use of the term is in connection with the work of Ludwig von Mises and the heterodox Austrian School of economics.


Mises attempted to find the conceptual root of economics. Like other Austrian economists he rejected the use of observation, saying that human actors are too complex to be reduced to their component parts and too self-conscious not to have their behaviour affected by the very act of observation. Observation of human action, or extrapolation from historical data, would thus always be contaminated by overlooked factors in the way that the natural sciences would not be.

To counter the subjective nature of the results of historical and statistical analysis (see "Methodenstreit"), Mises looked at the logical structure of human action (he entitled his magnum opus "Human Action"). In other words, he built on the methodological aspect of Economics, the synthetic a priori.

From praxeology Mises derived the idea that every conscious action is intended to improve a person's satisfaction. He noted that praxeology is not concerned with the individual's definition of end satisfaction, just the way he sought that satisfaction and that individuals will increase their satisfaction by removing sources of dissatisfaction or "uneasiness".

An acting man is defined as one capable of logical thought — to be otherwise would be to make one a mere creature who simply reacts to stimuli by instinct. Similarly an acting man must have a source of dissatisfaction which he believes capable of removing, otherwise he cannot act.

Another conclusion that Mises reached was that decisions are made on an "ordinal" basis. That is, it is impossible to carry out more than one action at once, the conscious mind being only capable of one decision at a time — even if those decisions can be made in rapid order. Thus man will act to remove the most pressing source of dissatisfaction first and then move to the next most pressing source of dissatisfaction. Additionally, Mises dismissed the notion that subjective values could be calculated mathematically; man can not treat his values with cardinal numbers, e.g., "I prefer owning a television 2.5 times as much as owning a DVD player." This is related to how the rank transform in statistics discards absolute values and retains only an ordering.

As a person satisfies his first most important goal and after that his second most important goal then his second most important goal is always less important than his first most important goal. Thus, the satisfaction, or utility, that he derives from every further goal attained is less than that from the preceding goal. This assumes, of course, that the goals are independent, which is not always the case--for example, acquiring the television may enable one to pursue the goal of watching a documentary on biology, which may make one decide to study biology, which opens the goal of writing a research paper, and so on.

In human society many actions will be trading activities where one person regards a possession of another person as more desirable than one of his own possessions, and the other person has a similar higher regard for his colleague's possession than he does for his own. This assertion modifies the classical economic view about exchange, which posits that individuals exchange goods and services that they both appraise as being equal in value. This subject of praxeology is known as catallactics.


The categories of praxeology, the general, formal theory of human action, as outlined by Murray Rothbard (pp. 945-946) are as follows: []

* A. The Theory of the Isolated Individual (Crusoe Economics)

* B. The Theory of Voluntary Interpersonal Exchange (Catallactics, or the Economics of the Market)
** 1. Barter
** 2. With Medium of Exchange
*** a. On the Unhampered Market
*** b. Effects of Violent Intervention with the Market
*** c. Effects of Violent Abolition of the Market (Socialism)

* C. The Theory of War--Hostile Action

* D. The Theory of Games (e.g., Von Neumann and Morgenstern)

* E. Unknown


See also

*"Human Action"
*Methodological individualism
*Cognitive science
*Behavioral economics
*Bounded rationality

External links

* [ Preface] to von Mises' book "Epistemological Problems of Economics"

* [ The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science] by Ludwig von Mises

* [ Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics] by Murray Rothbard

* [ Praxeology as the Method of the Social Sciences] by Murray Rothbard

* [ In Defense of Extreme Apriorism] by Murray Rothbard

* [ Economics and Praxeology] by Ludwig von Mises

* [ Time and Praxeology] by Ludwig von Mises

* [ Praxeology as Law & Economics] by Josef Sima

* [ Mises's Non-Trivial Insight] by Robert P. Murphy

* [ Psychology versus Praxeology] by Robert P. Murphy

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • praxeology — prakseologija statusas T sritis Kūno kultūra ir sportas apibrėžtis Bendroji sėkmingos veiklos teorija, bet kokios tikslinės žmonių veiklos tyrimo metodas. kilmė gr. praxis, kilm. prakseos – praktika, logos – mokslas atitikmenys: angl. praxeology… …   Sporto terminų žodynas

  • praxeology — noun Etymology: alteration of earlier praxiology, from praxis + o + logy Date: 1904 the study of human action and conduct • praxeological adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • praxeology — praxeological, praxiological /prak see euh loj i keuhl/, adj. /prak see ol euh jee/, n. the study of human conduct. Also, praxiology. [1900 05; < Gk praxe (taken as s. of prâxis PRAXIS) + O + LOGY; perh. via. F praxéologie] * * * …   Universalium

  • praxeology — noun the study of human action or conduct …   Wiktionary

  • praxeology — study of practical or efficient activity; science of efficient action Sciences and Studies …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • praxeology — prax·e·ol·o·gy …   English syllables

  • praxeology — prax•e•ol•o•gy [[t]ˌpræk siˈɒl ə dʒi[/t]] n. ant the study of human conduct • Etymology: 1900–05; < Gk prāxe (taken as s. of prâxis praxis) + o + logy; perh. via. F praxéologie prax e•o•log′i•cal əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl adj …   From formal English to slang

  • praxeology — …   Useful english dictionary

  • sports praxeology — sporto prakseologija statusas T sritis Kūno kultūra ir sportas apibrėžtis Sporto mokslo sritis – sportininkų veiklos teorija, nagrinėjanti sportininko judesių, veiksmų stabilizavimą, galimybių laimėti sportinę kovą optimizavimą, racionalų jėgų… …   Sporto terminų žodynas

  • Austrian School — Part of a series on Libertarianism Austrian School …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.