the Rathouse
Rafe Champion

Independent scholar, based in Sydney, Australia

Final version of a paper delivered at the conference on Austrian thought at the turn of the twentieth century.
University of Texas, Arlington


Barry Smith located an Aristotelian or “Austrian realism” framework of ideas which underpinned Carl Menger’s economics. In Popper’s terms this framework is  a “metaphysical research program”. The elements of the framework are replicated in the program that Popper elaborated in his long debate with the historicists, the positivists and the quantum physicists.  Another parallel in the thinking of  Popper and Smith is the theory of conjectural or fallibillistic knowledge.  This paper argues that if Menger could have accessed a theory of that kind he might have advanced his program instead of turning to methodological issues after he wrote the first of several planned volumes of economic theory.  Today, if the Aristotelian/Austrian/Popperian framework can be revived, the Austrian contribution to the mainline of economics will be better appreciated  and economics may be more effectively integrated with sociology and all the disciplines of the humanities including law, politics, and cultural studies.

Karl Popper and Barry Smith on the Metaphysical Research Program of Austrian Realism and Carl Menger's Economics.