Humane Economics

Purchase the book on Amazon.

Published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in the Advanced Studies in Political Economy series.

Don Lavoie's published work encompasses a wide range of subjects, including socialism, hermeneutics, information technology, and culture. The subjects appear unrelated, but a close examination of his research reveals an underlying unity of thought and an economics at sharp variance with the post-Second World War mainstream. The contributors to this collection explore the legacy of his scholarship and its implications for economics. 

This book explores three themes that run throughout Don Lavoie's work. His overarching theme was the importance of social intelligence to economics. Second, and related to the first, was his recognition that certain institutions or practices are better at creating social intelligence than others--what could be called the primacy of liberty. Third was his assertion that economics shares more in common with the humane disciplines than with the physical sciences. As these essays make clear, Don Lavoie's work sets the state for a whole new generation of economists to align their work more closely with the humanities.

Students and scholars of economics, methodology, and humanities more broadly will find this a provocative and enriching collection.

Don Lavoie was the David H. and Charles G. Koch Chair of Economics at George Mason University, where he taught from 1981 until his death in 2001. Beginning in the early 1970s, Lavoie was a crucial figure in the revival of the Austrian school of political economy, and he played an important role in building the Austrian economics program at George Mason University. His research focused on comparative economic systems, the use of knowledge in economic and organizational contexts, and the implications of hermeneutical philosophy for economics. He was the author of Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered and National Economic Planning: What Is Left?, both of which have been reissued by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

“This book highlights Don Lavoie’s multidisciplinary approach to the study of economics. In his view, economics is closer to the humanities than to the hard sciences, notwithstanding the claim often made in the literature that economics is indeed ‘a hard science.’ True to Lavoie’s vision, the book contains theoretical articles and case studies which link economics to several fields of study. It is a delight to see emphasis placed on the ‘hows and whys’ underlying market processes.” 
—Alan A. Rabin

“The authors do well-merited honor to Don Lavoie with carefully written contributions that not only are excellent for a memorial volume but could constitute a selection of outstanding journal articles. They tie together Lavoie’s many superficially different interests in, among others, comparative economic systems, market processes, computer programming, and epistemology. In particular, they emphasize how markets and prices enhance and coordinate inevitably dispersed knowledge. So doing, they further develop the contributions of Ludwig von Mises and especially of F. A. Hayek to the debate over socialist calculation.”
—Leland Yeager



Humane Economics: An Introduction to the Work of Don Lavoie
Jack High

Chapter 1: Calculation, Competition, and Entrepreneurship
Israel M. Kirzner

Chapter 2: Don Lavoie's Contributions to Comparative Economics
Peter J. Boettke & David L. Prychitko

Chapter 3: A Typology of Interventionist Dynamics
Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Chapter 4: Institutions as Abstraction Boundaries
Bill Tulloh & Mark S. Miller

Chapter 5: 'New' Collaborative Learning Environments: The Convergence of Hermeneutics and Hypertext
Virgil Henry Storr

Chapter 6: Hermeneutics and Liberty: Remembrance of Don Lavoie
G.B. Madison

Chapter 7: Hermeneutics in Economics: On the Status of 'As-If' Functions
Wayne J. Froman

Chapter 8: Humility and Truth in Economics
Deirdre McCloskey

Chapter 9: The Development of Cultural Economy: Foundational Questions and Future Direction
Emily Chamlee-Wright

Chapter 10: Innovation of Cardio-Imaging Technology at Hewlett-Packard and HP/Philips
Don E. Kash

Chapter 11: Subjective Orientation and Objective Wealth: Entrepreneurship and the Convergence of Groupware and Hypertext Capabilities
Don Lavoie