Aquinas, Austrians and Economics

Some notes on this article on Aquinas and economics from an Austrian economist (undergrad?)

  • Aquinas is accused of committing the “collectivist fallacy.” This fallacy only makes sense upon the presuppositions of the Austrians. A major presupposition is that society is an aggregate of individuals. Given the real stability of society, this is implausible on the face of it and wrong upon further investigation.
  • Rothbard considers the “isolated man” as pivotal for understanding economic action. However, just a thought experiment is entirely an abstraction. It may have valuable insights but it cannot be the fullness and certainly still presumes man’s social nature. For example, the “isolated man” must act as if socialized in some manner or acts purely animalistically.
  • Man is never complete “isolated” from society in the relevant sense. Aristotle begins his analysis from the way man is, while Rothbard begins with how man is not. This would be like trying to understand piscine action outside of water.
  • The notion that individuals acting for individual goods and cooperating as opposed to the common good seems strangely blind. Cooperation cannot be understood apart from a common good. In an exchange, I cooperate with you because your satisfaction benefits me. Your good becomes my good and our mutual satisfaction becomes the common good that unites us in our exchange and cooperation.
  • Common good seems to be taken as antithetical to an individual good. The common good is the good of the collective against my own good. This is how the author interprets Aquinas. This is not the case for if it were, people would not join together in society. Mutual cooperation is sought precisely because of a common good that unites us or brings us together.
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