Dissecting Propertarianism

This post is a call for help. Please contribute to the discussion.

The goal is to determine the best way to dissect Propertarianism in order to break it into chunks that are digestible. Do you have any ideas as to the best way to do this?

The thought is to start with operationalism and pseudoscience and relate it to economics. I have watched ‘A Century of Mysticism‘ a number of times. It has taken me 3 sittings to begin to understand where CD is going with operationalism.

I have searched ‘operationalism pseudoscience’ and have yet to find anything that can succinctly define the problem. This page does a good job of showing how the scientific method is insufficient for arriving at knowledge or truth, because the scientific method is inductive reasoning and there is a problem with induction:

I think that CD is getting at this problem: If we induce a number of axioms, we may be able to build a model that works logically, but is flawed underneath. For example, Newtonian physics works on human scale but fails at the quantum level or the galactic level. And I see that reducing to operations seems to get rid of the problem of induction, because we are dealing only with observable truths (contextualized at a given scale) and not trying to induce their causation. If we try to induce the laws of nature from Newtonian observation, our inductions are fundamentally wrong on some levels. If we instead move to operations, we side-step the problem of induction.

 The above is my current understanding of the problem/solution. Maybe I have it wrong.

When I search Propertarianism.com for ‘operationalism pseudoscience’ I get a number of hits, but none of them seem to help me process what CD is getting at. For example, this post:

The above post is about philosophy and history, really but is not concrete enough for me to be able to figure out how to use it. There are a number of posts that are similar in nature, but none are concrete enough for me to grasp. In A Century of Mysticism I get so much more concrete information to put me on the trail, because CD gives concrete examples of how he uses operationalism. The problem is that there is then no concrete relation to Misesian economics. Also, in the search linked above, I cannot really find any understandable explanations of operationalism in the way the CD uses it.

The assertion as I understand it is: Libertarian/Misesian economics is a pseudoscience because it uses induction (scientific method) rather than operationalism.

If this assertion is true, then what are specific examples of inductions in Misesian economics which are incorrect? Proof needed, concrete examples needed.

In the given examples (to the above question) of false induction, how can that conception be replaced by operations?

I cannot seem to grasp the problem or its solution outside of concrete examples. I am not even sure I understand the problem correctly.

I believe that what I am seeking (to understand Propertarianism) is proof of logical induction errors in Misesian economics and proof of how these errors can corrected using operationalism. This should prove to me that I actually understand the problem (pseudoscience in economics) and the solution to it the problem (operational economics). The goal is to develop a functional ability to independently apply the theory to concrete problems. If this problem/solution concept is understood correctly, then it should be possible for those who understand it to develop concrete solutions from the basic concepts, or at least follow examples given by others.

Currently, I am unable to do this.

Do you think I am on the right track?

Thanks for your help!

4 thoughts on “Dissecting Propertarianism

    • Jason,

      Thank you for writing it! I think your article helps to elucidate the problem of pseudoscience in economics that Curt Doolittle is pointing at: It is possible to use rational means and scientific language to build economic theory based on ‘self-evident axioms’ (unproven), but without operationalism (existence proofs, testimonial truth) then the resulting logical framework may hold together logically, but it is not bound to reality and is therefore pseudoscientific, as opposed to truly scientific. You articulate this thought with regard to Atheists who attempt to use the language of science and logical/rational arguments which are not then forced to provide existence proofs. For example: Atheists tend to make an assertion such as ‘God is unprovable, therefore Christianity is irrational. Irrationality is bad, therefore Atheism is rational and rationalism is good.’ Yet when we require an existence proof and we look at the data, we find that Christians are more psychologically stable, happier, more socially connected, and more charitable; they live longer and have better career prospects, they form families at a higher rate which leads to better outcomes for their offspring. And yet, despite all of these measurable benefits of Christianity, Atheists continue to bash it based on rationalist arguments. Your case for operationalism is a good one. We need to look at measurable, real-world outcomes and get out of this Platonic rationalism that works wonderfully only as long as it is confined to a logical playground bounded by unproven axioms, but which fails when required to produce real-world benefits.


  1. Pingback: Operational Property | Propertarian Forum

  2. There’s a number of things that can be addressed here. But this is a good start:

    “The assertion as I understand it is: Libertarian/Misesian economics is a pseudoscience because it uses induction (scientific method) rather than operationalism.”

    I don’t think that’s what CD is saying. The problem is that Libertarian/Misesian thoughts rests upon a prioria, subjective, irrational “self-evident axioms” such as “People are inherently free.” The problem goes back to Locke with the idea that “All men are created equal [before God].” Somewhere along the way, philosophers killed God and replaced that line of thinking with equally unscientific and subjective ideas about freedom and liberty, all of which rest upon “self-evident axioms” that are untestable and non-falsifiable — the complete opposite of the scientific method. I think what CD is saying is that since we can not test these axioms, we need to make praxeology scientific by introducing the idea of operationalism. Since we can’t observe the self-evident nature of the right to property, we can indeed observe and measure people’s defense and consideration of property, all of which exists upon a gradient. So, in reality, we have a right to life and self-ownership on the basis of the fact that people act to preserve; thy act to preserve their property; they act to preserve operational property, such as culture and mores, etc.

    So, I think what CD is trying to do is to take those self-evident axioms out of the equation, which upon the entire super-structure of libertarian thought rests, and replace it with an upgraded form of praxeology, which substitutes the pseudoscience and replaces it with operationalism as a means.

    Liked by 1 person

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