Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peter Boettke and the Coining of Technical Economic Vocabulary

Peter Boettke writes:

I agree that this is often the case. Indeed, Boettke naming his blog, Coordination Problem, is an example of such poor choice of words. He uses the name to replace, Austrian Economists, but apparently believes his discussion is still mostly from an Austrian perspective. But the Austrian perspective is, at its core, a perspective that begins with methodological individualism. This flies in the face of Boettke's new blog name, since, coordination problem, implies something other than methodological individualism. It is some kind of societal look at economics. This is a great error among almost all economists and Boettke has redoubled the error by naming his blog this way. Economics, from an Austrian perspective, is not, for the most part, about coordination in any planned acting manner. It is about exchange, valuation etc. which is, again, a  methodological individualist perspective. Boettke's blog name distorts this essence and instead implies planning of some sort, afterall, isn't that what coordination means? Now, Boettke may argue that he means coordination in a Hayekian sense of unintended consequences of individual acting, exchange and valuation, but Boettke's use of coordination distills the important essence of Hayek's use of the term and its important methodoligical qualifiers. It is a terrible, ambiguous name for a blog that is allegedly a blog with an Austrian perspective.

Use of the term Austrian School removes the ambiguity of the essence of what is being discussed. One unfamiliar with the Austrian School may have to look up the meaning and its principles, but there is no chance for ending up with a wrong impression of what it is. There is no chance that it  could result in the taking of a reader in a wrong direction, which can certainly occur with "coordination problem."



  1. Excellent observation. Methodological individualism is definitely the core of Austrian economics. Boettke's blog title is almost ironic. But then Hayek's word usage was often muddled in the same way.

  2. Boettke wrote the best thing ever on economic calculation combining the best of Mises and Hayek:

    After reading this paper, one can see that he certainly understands how credit expansion impairs economic calculation and thus plan coordination between entrepreneurs and consumers.

    1. My point is not whether Boettke understands plan coordination. The discussion was about the poor choice of words by Booettke when re-namimg his blog. Plan coordination isy a poor choice of words for an Austrian blog, since it has a tendency to imply for most people that it is a discussion of government planning.

    2. I agree that the new name fails as a device to quickly communicate the essence of the theory. It isn't going to appeal to either hot chicks or just average people with a 7 second attention span when it comes to all things economic.