About the Course
This course covers a vital period in the history of economics, using Murray Rothbard’s Classical Economics as the text. Austrian economics can’t be fully understood without knowledge of its main rival, the classical economics developed by David Ricardo. Rothbard gives a devastating analysis of Ricardo’s system, and the course shows how some of its mistakes survive in contemporary non-Austrian economics. One of the most important of these is what Rothbard calls “verbal mathematics”. Ricardo’s approach will be compared with the causal realist method of J.B. Say, which prefigured the Austrian method.
Among libertarians, fractional reserve banking has been one of the most debated issues. Anyone interested in this topic will find the course of value. Rothbard gives a detailed account of the bullionistcontroversy, involving the Bank of England, and an analysis of the Banking and Currency Schools. This is an indispensable background to understanding the Austrian theory of the business cycle.
One of the highlights of the book is Rothbard’s analysis of Marxism. He not only provides a thorough account of the fallacies of Marxist economics but gives a full treatment of the philosophical basis of Marxism in messianic speculation as well.
The course also covers Rothbard’s criticism of Jeremy Bentham, which provides his most detailed discussion of utilitarianism. Students will learn why Rothbard rejected this influential system.
One of the funniest parts of the book is Rothbard’s discussion of John Stuart Mill, who, to say the least was not his favorite person. One lecture will be dedicated to Rothbard’s view of Mill’s economics and political philosophy.
As will be apparent, the course will be of interest not only to students of economics but also to those interested in philosophy, politics, and history. The course continues my course on Volume 1 of Rothbard’s history, but that course is not a prerequisite for this one, and no material from it is presupposed.
All readings for this course are free, available online, and provided to students in a fully-hyperlinked syllabus.
Independent study courses are courses that were presented live in the past. These courses are now offered at a discount to anyone who wants to study independently. All courses include lecture recordings, slides, a complete hyper-linked syllabus, automatically-graded quizzes, and a discussion forum. Professors are not available for academic support for these independent study courses.