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Walter Block

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute. He earned his PhD in economics at Columbia University in 1972. He has taught at Rutgers, SUNY Stony Brook, Baruch CUNY, Holy Cross and the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of almost 500 refereed articles in professional journals, two dozen books, and thousands of op eds. He lectures widely on college campuses, delivers seminars around the world and appears regularly on television and radio shows.  He is the Schlarbaum Laureate, Mises Institute, 2011; and has won the Loyola University Research Award (2005, 2008) and the Mises Institute’s Rothbard Medal of Freedom, 2005; and the Dux Academicus award, Loyola University, 2007.

Prof. Block counts among his friends Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard. He was converted to libertarianism by Ayn Rand. Block is old enough to have once met Ludwig von Mises, and shaken his hand. Block has never washed that hand since.  So, if you shake his hand (it’s pretty dirty, but what the heck) you channel Mises.

Block is a leading Austrian School economist and an international leader of the freedom movement. His earliest work Defending the Undefendable (first edition Fleet 1976, latest edition Mises 2008, translated in 12 languages) is now, more than 30 years later, still regarded as a classic of libertarianism. This collection of essays, which argues in behalf of societal villains as economic scapegoats based on the principles of nonaggression, forces its reader to think and to rethink his initial knee-jerk emotional responses, and to gain a new and far sounder appreciation of economic theory and of the virtues and operations of the free market economy. Block’s writing was inspired by Henry Hazlitt, the author of the most widely read economics text Economics in One Lesson. Block’s latest book is: Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty.

Block has been a fixture in the libertarian movement for some four Decades. He actually met Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, and was friends with, and mentored by, Murray Rothbard.  His contributions to academic libertarianism and to Austrian economics have been prodigious. Block’s writings continue to challenge the conventional wisdom (or ignorance) of how economics works and will retain its freshness for decades to come.  His public speaking style has been described as a combination of that of Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Murray Rothbard.

Dr. Block has written over 500 articles for peer reviewed refereed journals, some two dozen books, and literally thousands of op eds for magazines and newspapers. Block appears widely on radio and television. He is a contributor to such scholarly journals as The Review of Austrian Economics, Journal of Libertarian Studies, The Journal of Labor Economics, and the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is currently Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, College of Business Administration, at Loyola University New Orleans.



Thymology, Praxeology, Demand Curves, Giffen Goods and Diminishing Marginal Utility

Issue: 1:2 (The second issue)
Austrian economists have been criticized for several logical inconsistencies. On the one hand, they support the law of downward sloping demand, but given that, the Giffen good serves as a refutation. On the other hand, the praxeological school embraces diminishing marginal utility but rejects indifference; yet, how can utility diminish (or increase or even remain constant, for that matter) as equally serviceable units are utilized?

Ordinal Or Cardinal Utility: A Note

Issue: 3:1 (The ninth issue)
Modern microeconomic theory is based on a foundation of ordinal preference relations. Good textbooks stress that cardinal utility functions are artificial constructions of convenience, and that economics does not attribute any meaning to “utils.” However, we argue that despite this official position, in practice mainstream economists rely on techniques that assume the validity of cardinal utility. Doing so has turned mainstream economic theorizing into an exercise of reductionism of objects down to the preferences of ‘ideal type’ subjects.

A Praxeological Approach to Intentional Action

Issue: 6:4 (The twenty fourth issue)
The concept of Intentional Action is at the core of Praxeology, as developed by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. Under this unique approach,
defined as the science of human action and designed to study the field of the deductive system starting from the desired one. From this axiom, the al features and implications of human action; such as value, scale of value, scarcity, abundance, profit, loss, uncertainty and causality, among others. This paper intends to present the praxeological perspective on intentional action and its epistemological implications; it also attempts to answer objections to this thesis.

Christianity, the Free Market, and Libertarianism

Issue: 6:4 (The twenty fourth issue)
In recent centuries Christians of various denominations have endorsed many
different political philosophies that they see as being truly biblical in their
approach. Over this time there has been an increasing hostility, by some
Christians, towards free markets and political philosophies that hold human
liberty as the highest goal such as libertarianism and classical liberalism. This
criticism is unwarranted and misplaced as libertarianism and free markets are
not only compatible with Christianity, they are also the most biblically sound
of all economics systems and political philosophies endorsed by Christians
today. Therefore, this paper will argue that Christians of all denominations
should endorse free markets and libertarianism if they wish to create a world
that follows biblical principles and the teachings of Jesus.

Oeconomia Suffocato: The Origins of Antipathy Toward Free Enterprise Among Catholic Intelligentsia

Issue: 7:2 (The twenty sixth issue)
What is the source of the antipathy of Catholic intellectuals toward free
markets? That is the issue addressed in the present paper. We see the
antecedents of this viewpoint of theirs in terms of secular humanism, Marxism
and mistaken views of morality and economics. One of the explanations for
this phenomenon are the teachings of St Augustine. He greatly distrusted the
City of Man, seeing it as anarchic and chaotic. In contrast, his City of God is
more orderly, but far removed from the hurly burly of free enterprise. Another
source of the rejection of capitalism on the part of Catholic intellectuals is
liberation theology, which is Marxism minus the atheism of that doctrine. Both
economic and cultural Marxism have played a role in the alienation of such
intellectuals from the tenets of laissez faire capitalism. Are there any counter
currents? Yes, the School of Salamanca, which has been all but forgotten in
this community.

Preface. Libertarianism from the Philosophical Perspective

Issue: 9:2 (the thirty fourth issue)
This special issue of Studia Humana is devoted, and dedicated, to
libertarianism; its promotion and its study. I am very grateful to the editors of
this journal for inviting me to put together such a compilation. There are 16
contributions in all, covering most of the social science disciplines.

On Huemer on Ethical Veganism

Issue: 9:2 (the thirty fourth issue)
Huemer [33] argues against the killing of animals. I offer a critical libertarian
analysis of his claim.

Rejoinder to Huemer on Animal Rights

Issue: 10:4 (The fortieth issue)
Heumer and I debate animal rights, utilitarianism, libertarianism, morality and philosophy. We agree that suffering is a problem, and diverge, widely, on how to deal with it. I maintain that this author’s reputation as a libertarian, let alone an intellectual leader of this movement, is problematic. Why? That is because libertarianism, properly understood, is a theory of intra-human rights; this philosophy says nothing about right from an extra-human perspective, Heumer to the contrary notwithstanding. That is to say, he is improperly importing into the freedom philosophy considerations extraneous to it.

Animal Rights from the Perspective of Evictionism

Issue: 11:2 (The forty second issue)
In this paper, the conception of Anthony J. Cesario about the philosophy of animal rights is critically reviewed. His approach is a valiant effort to defend the philosophy of animal rights. He is a moderate on this matter, offering all sorts of compromises. He applies an unusual insight to this matter with using the libertarian doctrine of evictionism.

Some Prospects of Libertarian Punishment Theory: Rejoinder to Blasco and Marcos

Issue: 11:2 (The forty second issue)
Libertarian punishment theory was initially articulated by Murray N. Rothbard and Walter E. Block. It was broken down into four separate stages. To a great degree, this theory was accepted by Eduardo Blasco and Davie Marcos. However, they maintain it is in need of some slight adjustments and improvements, mainly dealing with the interest rate. The present paper claims their suggestion while valid, is unnecessary, since this theory already incorporates that element, at least implicitly.

Issue: ()

Response to Hewitt on Abortion

Issue: 12:4 (The forty seventh issue)
The defense argument in favor of abortion sees the fetus as an invader, a trespasser, someone against whom violence is justified, since this very young person (the fetus) has initiated violence against his mother. Hewitt [30] rejects this argument. The present paper maintains the justification of this defense argument. My perspective is based on the private property rights of the mother. She owns her person. It is as if her body is her house, and a trespasser has invaded it. Surely, she has the right to evict such a person. This analogy is relatively easy to see in the case of rape. The unwanted fetus, now occupying a part of her body is in effect a intruder. If she really owns her body, which I contend she certainly does, she has a right to expel this person from her property. I also argue that voluntary sexual intercourse does not constitution an “invitation” for the pre-born baby to occupy her premises for nine months.