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Fábio Barbieri

Articles by Fábio Barbieri

The Mises Brothers: Positivism and the Social Sciences Part 2

December 3, 2015

Reprinted from Mises Brazil
Armed with this model, Richard von Mises argues for the unity of method (Ch. 17). Instead of criticizing the methodological dualism of his elder brother, he prefers to expose and criticize the dualism in Dilthey and Rickert, whose views were dominant in Germany. According to his concept of dualism, the natural sciences strives for simplification in order to generalize knowledge. Where as, the social sciences seeks an understanding particular to the study subjects. The first, thereby intends to explain everything in terms of an atomistic physics. While the second, using more realism, rejects the reduction of mental phenomena to mechanistic explanations. Richard dismisses these differences, noting that the population dynamics in Malthus would be a case of social knowledge generalized by science, and that a natural science such as geology is also interested in unique phenomenon of our planet’s history. Moreover, the distinction between mental and physical phenomena would not generate significant methodological differences, since we learn about mental states from sensory observation, reading, listening or observing the actions of others. Finally, physics could not be reduced to an outdated atomism.

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The Mises Brothers: Positivism and the Social Sciences Part 1

December 2, 2015

Reprinted from Mises Brazil
Few places have witnessed so many contributions to science, philosophy and the arts as Vienna during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Although most cultural centers of the time were comprised of fragmented communities of specialists, the small elite group of intellectuals responsible for this flowering in Vienna were concerned with all cultural fronts — and enthusiastically debated them in the famous cafes of the Austro-Hungarian capitol[1].
This phenomenon led to the development of a modern intellectual pastime: to trace personal relationships between major figures of a period. Consider a small sampling of this activity: Popper became friends with Hayek, who was a cousin of Wittgenstein. Mises was a classmate of Hans Kelsen. Gustav Mahler was Freud´s patient. His wife, Alma Mahler, after flirting with Gustav Klimt in her youth, became successively, after Mahler´s death, wife of the famous architect Walter Gropius and the writer Franz Werfel, aside from her romantic liaison with the painter Oskar Kokoschka.
The cultural richness of the Austro-Hungarian Empire also gave rise to another pastime: exploring the differences of opinion, often radical, between two famous brothers.

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