Sprachgeist and Realisticness: The Troubled Relationship between (Austrian) Economics and Mathematics Revisited


Alexander Linsbichler, University of Vienna


Publication Number: 2021-15

Publication Date: Monday, August 2, 2021

In recent academic and to some extent public debates, mainstream economics has been accused of excessive mathematization. The rejection of mathematical and other formal methods is often cited as a crucial trait of Austrian economics. Based on a systematic discussion of potential benefits and potential drawbacks of formalization in economics, the paper concludes that--contrary to the received view--the most prominent representatives of Austrian economists including Carl Menger, Ludwig Mises, and Friedrich August Hayek neither provide a justification for a rejection of formalization tout court nor actually reject it. Those Neo-Austrians who do, seem to rely on an unconvincing Sprachgeist argument traceable to Friedrich Wieser.