By Israel M. Kirzner
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Additional resources for Subjectivism, Intelligibility and Economic Understanding: Essays in Honor of Ludwig M. Lachmann on his Eightieth Birthday
3 A conventionalist consumer. Given the many conceivable utility functions, how does the consumer pick one to start with? If one abandons the requirement of a complete proof, various criteria can be adopted to appraise the consumer's theory of his or her utility function. In effect, the consumer need only be a good ectmometriciano No claim need be made that the true utility function is ever found. Rather, the chosen utility function need only be the best available according to the evidence and the adopted criteria.
Both "types of knowledge" can be true or false. It is necessary to recognize the role of methodology in decision making precisely because the knowledge of the individual decision maker-whether it is scientific or otherwise-can be false. If one is not careful, the Hayek-Lachmann distinction between 34 Methodology and the Individual Decision Maker practical and propositional knowledge can be used to perpetuate a reliance on a false theory of knowledge-inductivism. For example, Hayek's claim that certain scientific knowledge will always be unattainable (or be otherwise inadequate) presumes that for anyone's knowledge to be true it must have been acquired by some inductive process.
Whenever an individual's knowledge is false, the empirical evidence generated in: the market by actions based on false knowledge actually leads towards the truth about the market. For example, overestimating market supply at the current price leads to some individuals' having to bid the price up and thereby inadvertently reducing the shortage. That is, acting upon false ("disequilibrium") prices unintentionally leads to the creation of true (equilibrium) prices which can be the basis for realizable plans to maximize profits or utility.
Subjectivism, Intelligibility and Economic Understanding: Essays in Honor of Ludwig M. Lachmann on his Eightieth Birthday by Israel M. Kirzner