Reflections on Ethics, Freedom, Welfare Economics, Policy, and the Legacy of Austrian Economics comprises a variety of Kirzner’s essays on social thought. Kirzner’s intellectual interest and theories go beyond market process and entrepreneurship: they encompass several important topics that are vital to the existence of human societies.
Kirzner’s work, at heart, is not prescriptive but analytical. His work is not about casting unsubstantiated judgments on modern economics or spouting a blind return to laissez-faire; instead, Kirzner starts with examining how markets function, working from the ground up. From these foundations, he is able to explore a variety of domains, such as the nature of economics, the economics of welfare and policy, and even ethical issues. In the words of the volume editors, “Kirzner contends that in order to make ethical judgments about a social system, one must first understand the science behind it. In other words, having good knowledge of the principles that govern markets is a prerequisite for ethical statements about them. It is only through a clear grasp of the fundamental concepts of economic science, such as profit, interest, and entrepreneurship, that one can make true statements about welfare economics, the morality of market transactions, and policy issues.”
The tools that Kirzner developed in his work can be applied to many areas of inquiry. From the impact of governmental regulation on the entrepreneurial discovery process to the role of institutions in sustaining prosperity, Kirzner’s work shows that the free market is a necessary element in maintaining social harmony and bringing stability to our constantly changing world.
Israel M. Kirzner is a leading economist in the Austrian School and Professor Emeritus of Economics at New York University.
Peter J. Boettke is University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. His publications include Living Economics, The Handbook of Contemporary Austrian Economics, and The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics. He has been the editor of The Review of Austrian Economics since 1998.
Frédéric Sautet is Associate Professor at The Catholic University of America, Tim Busch School of Business and Economics. He is a specialist in Austrian market process theory and teaches entrepreneurship studies. He is the author of An Entrepreneurial Theory of the Firm and has published widely on entrepreneurship.