Critical realism and the Austrian paradox

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Austrian economics provokes mixed reactions among critical realists. It preaches methodological individualism, marginalism, and rational choice while embracing emergence, open processes, and error. The Austrian school stands paradoxically with one foot each in the mainstream marginalist tradition and heterodox social theory. I argue that this paradox can be disentangled by appeal to the fundamental distinction between the logic of choice and the logic of action. I then extend the analysis of the logic of action to the critical realist account of the basic ontology of social structures, arguing that successful retroduction of social structures depends on marginalist insights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-530
Number of pages14
JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Austrian Economics
  • Critical realism
  • Heterodox economics
  • Social ontology


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