Did Ludwig von Mises err in attributing the idea that “no man profits but by the loss of another” to Michel de Montaigne, as Casto Martín Montero Kuscevic and Marco Antonio del Río Rivera claim? In this brief comment we vindicate Mises's assessment and criticisms of Montaigne by way of three points. First, Mises was indeed correct in christening the belief that the economy can be presented as a zero-sum game as the “Montaigne dogma.” Second, we demonstrate that Montaigne refers not only to involuntary exchanges but also to voluntary ones. Finally, we show that Mises considers cases beyond their strict monetary results and refers to entrepreneurial profits as being primarily psychic in nature. As a result, Mises is able to offer an explanation for why forced transactions create no net benefit, but voluntary ones cannot be interpreted in the same way.
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Research Article| December 01 2016
Mises and Montaigne: A Comment
History of Political Economy (2016) 48 (4): 733–740.
Philipp Bagus, David Howden, Amadeus Gabriel, Eva María Carrasco Bañuelos; Mises and Montaigne: A Comment. History of Political Economy 1 December 2016; 48 (4): 733–740. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-3687331
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