The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 29–42 | Cite as

Why should Austrian economists be pluralists?

  • Robert F. GarnettJr.


Peter Boettke (2007) argues that economists need not act pluralistically in order for pluralism to thrive in the marketplace of economic ideas. From a market process perspective, Boettke sees intellectual diversity and openness as catallactic outputs, not inputs—emergent by-products of academic specialization and trade. To expect individual scholars to behave in a pluralistic manner is unnecessary and “completely inappropriate” since it detracts from their central task: “to commit themselves to an approach and pursue it doggedly, even in the face of great doubt and resistance by one’s peers” (Boettke 2007). This paper proposes a Smithian revision of Boettke’s position. The author argues that scholarly pluralism is best understood as a constitutional rule of academic life—a virtue ethic that promotes learning and intellectual freedom by mitigating tyranny and autarky in the republic of science. Drawing from the writings of Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Deirdre McCloskey, Bruce Caldwell, James Buchanan, Don Lavoie, and Boettke himself, the author argues that scholarly pluralism has been, and continues to be, a necessary condition for the flourishing of Austrian economists as free, responsible, efficacious thinkers.


Pluralism Marketplace of ideas Republic of science Epistemic virtue Weingast paradox Adam Smith Academic freedom 

JEL codes

A20 B40 B53 



A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics in Washington, DC, November, 2008. I would like to thank Peter Boettke, Ted Burczak, Emily Chamlee-Wright, Steve Horwitz, Roger Koppl, Alice MacLachlan, and Stephen Turner for their valuable questions and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsTexas Christian UniversityFort WorthUSA

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