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Objective Economics by M. Northrup Buechner

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#1
patrik 7-2321

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I decided to buy this book as an introduction to economics, mainly because John Lewis from ARI recommended it.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co...35291780&sr=1-1
Book webpage: http://objectiveeconomics.net/

Being new to economics I like the book so far, but then I saw this review by the Objective standard: http://www.theobject...up-buechner.asp
And then there were some controversy online over this quote from page 1, (the preface):
"To the best of my knowledge, this book represents the first attempt to rewrite economics in the light of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism."
- Which is claimed by some to be a dishonest statement and an insult to a "George Reisman" (whom I know nothing about) who has previosly written a book on economics with an Objectivist theme.

What to make of it? Should this criticism cast doubt on the value of the content of this book? I'd like to hear what you economically literate think about it.

Edited by patrik 7-2321, 24 April 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#2
JASKN

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I haven't read this book, but Reisman's was definitely written "in light of" Objectivism. Reisman explicitly explains philosophical tenets of Objectivism in relation to economic principles. Perhaps the author wasn't dishonest but just ignorant of Reisman.
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#3
Steve D'Ippolito

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Even if the reviewer is wrong about there being no prior Objectivist economic work, that doesn't take anything away from this book. I'd say you should judge it based on other things.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito, 24 April 2012 - 04:55 PM.

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#4
Ninth Doctor

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Perhaps the author wasn't dishonest but just ignorant of Reisman.


Not possible. Buechner’s been involved for decades, Rand quoted him by name (and had a hard time pronouncing his name) in her last public appearance. If you were around in the early nineties, you couldn’t miss the announcements of Reisman’s then upcoming book in the Second Renaissance catalog, which was then the “official” book store. Reisman was as big (if not bigger) a name in those circles as Binswanger or Schwartz. Then, the memory hole.
"If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men." - Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, Preface

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#5
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From the contents page, the book seems very different from Reisman's book, which covers a huge range of topics. Reisman's is more like a text book, where one can finds all sorts of chapters and there is no expectation of a single theme as such, even though an Objectivist ethical and political perspective runs through it all.

In contrast, Buechner's book appears to be about building a theory of price upon the idea that values are objective. This is only a best-guess, from the contents-page and from a lectures by Buechner titled "Objective Value". Objectivists often criticize Ludwig von Mises as pushing a subjective theory of value. At the very least, von Mises takes value as a starting point that is not really open to exploration by an economist. It is like saying: "Qua economist, I don't care why you value this good. For my purposes, it is enough that you do. From that starting point, let's see what it means for prices, and markets". In his lectures, Buechner chewed on the idea that values are objective: they're neither subjective nor intrinsic. In this book, he appears to have done much more, exploring all sorts of areas of price theory. [BTW: Other economists too have tried to explore details of how and why people value things. So, I'm not implying Buechner is the only one to attempt it.]

The snippet from Salsman's review is pretty negative, but funnily enough -- to me -- it makes the book seem more interesting than I had imagined.

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#6
softwareNerd

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Someone who has read Salsman's review might be interested in this review of the review. This is not a recommendation, just a pointer.

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#7
brian0918

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Buechner has a ton of articles on his website that formed the basis of his book, including a multi-part series on redefining the law of supply and demand:

http://objectiveeconomics.net/

The problem with reality is that it only works in practice. In theory, it can never work. ;)


#8
Hairnet

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Reisman attempted to synthesize the works of Mises and Rand, claiming both as his intellectual predecessors. I am not sure how it played out it into his works, but mises was a really cold post kantian amoral rationalist where as Rand was a fairly passionate empiricist and egoist. Maybe Buechner thought Reisman's work wasn't truly Objectivist.
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