Unlike what usually passes for economics in many classrooms, government, the media and elsewhere, Choice is an engaging and intriguing book that provides something quite unique: a genuine treatise on economics that instructs and entertains both economists and general readers. Drawing on the seminal volume by the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, and comparing classical and neoclassical approaches, Choice is a creative, comprehensive, and unusually lucid book on economic science and market processes. The book illuminates free economies as underpinning civilization, the folly of government central planning, the primacy of entrepreneurship and innovation, the nature of money and banking, the causes of the business cycle, the failures of government intervention, and more.
As a result, Choice teaches economic principles and exposes economic fallacies, and any reader will learn both the important truths about economics and the crucial value of individual choice, entrepreneurship, and free markets.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Donald J. Boudreaux
Relationship Between Contents of Choice (Robert Murphy) and Human Action (Ludwig von Mises)
I. Human Action
1. The Science of Economics and Human Action
2. The Definition and Components of Action
3. Economic Theory versus Historical Understanding
4. Further Economic Concepts and Principles Flowing from Action
II. Action Within the Framework of Society
5. Human Society and the Division of Labor
6. The Role of Ideas and the Importance of Reason
III. Economic Calculation
7. Even the Economists Missed the Importance of Monetary Calculation
8. What Economic Calculation Can and Cant Do
IV. Catallactics: Economics of the Market Society
9. Defining and Studying the Market Economy
10. How Prices Are Formed on the Market
11. Indirect Exchange and Money
12. The Misesian Approach to Money & Banking
13. Capital, Time Preference, and the Theory of Interest
14. Austrian Business Cycle Theory
V. Social Cooperation Without a Market
15. The Impossibility of Economic Calculation Under Socialism
VI. The Hampered Market Economy
16. Government Intervention in the Market Economy
VII. The Place of Economics in Society
17. Economics and Public Opinion
About the Author
Why study economics? In Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, Robert P. Murphy demonstrates that modern civilization itself rests on the market economy. Yet the market can function properly only if the government respects the institution of private property. Only if citizens learn the basics of economic scienceand apply what theyve learned to the task of shaping public opinioncan freedom, prosperity, and civilization survive in the long term. This book summarizes all that the layperson needs to know in this vital effort.
Why should I rely on Murphys Choice, rather than Misess Human Action? This is a false alternative. Both books are important, but each targets a different audience. Although Choice draws on Misess magnificent treatise for its organization, its exposition is much more accessible
to a modern reader, particularly the layperson. Murphys book is not a substitute for Human Actionfor those who can tackle itbut it is a logical first stop for those interested in the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics.
Whats new in Choice? Murphy frequently includes numerical examples to illustrate a principle, which makes the book an ideal text for an upper level undergraduate course. For example, students will have a much easier time understanding the formation of barter prices, or the operation of a system of free banking, when they read Murphys text. Among other examples, Choice extends one of Misess brilliant analogiesthat of the master builder who must revise his architectural blueprints after realizing he has too few bricks to complete buildingto explain the harm caused by government interventions meant to forestall the liquidation of wasteful projects during an economic recession. Murphy also provides quotations from several of Misess rivals, to better explain the arguments that Mises fought against.
The most ambitious, and arguably greatest, treatise on economics ever written was published in 1949Human Action by Ludwig von Mises. In that masterpiece, the learned scholar, who had fled war-torn Europe in 1940 and landed a visiting professorship at New York University five years later, summarized the state of economic science, especially as it related to the flourishing of a free and prosperous society. Mises valued the importance of educating the public about the basic teachings of economics, because public opinion ultimately shapes government policies that either support or sabotage the workings of the market economy. Human Action was Misess most painstaking effort to instill in the thinking public the profound notion that civilization rests on the basic fact that human society is vastly more productive when individuals work in cooperation with one another.
Mises was uncompromising in his commitment to teaching the deepest truths about economic science and to enlisting the public in the defense of the free society. But as brilliant as Human Action is, its length and depth can intimidate many potential readers. Hence the present book. In Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, economist Robert P. Murphy distills the essence of Misess treatise into a more reader-friendly package. But Murphys book is not a mere study guide to the great treatise; it is a stand-alone work that elucidates Misess most important teachings in a style designed to engage the reader but without sacrificing the rigor of the masters arguments.
Murphy begins by explaining the historical context that gave special meaning to the phrase human actionshowing its fundamental importance to the study of man, society, and economics. From its inception through the founding of classical economics (the time of Adam Smith and David Hume), economists focused on the patterns observed in market phenomena, such as the connection between prices and costs or the influx of new money and the drop in its purchasing power. Later, however, the so-called Marginal Revolution of the 1870s ushered in a new way of thinking about economic affairs. Rather than focusing on the objective characteristics of physical commodities and labor-hours, economists began to study the subjective processes by which humans made choices. Economics was now embedded in the larger enterprise of the study of human action itself.
After defining human action as intentional behavior, Murphy spells out some of the implications of this idea. For example,
if an action takes place, there must be an actorthat is, a volitional being, one who chooses among various alternatives for the sake of achieving a desired outcome. For without the presence of goals or preferences, Murphy notes, it would make little sense to classify an observed behavior as intentional.
Action within the Framework of Society
After laying the foundation of economic science (in the tradition of the Austrian School), Murphy elucidates some of its most crucial insights. Chief among these is the recognition that modern civilization depends on the higher productivity of labor that results when people cooperate with each other, rather than when they work in isolation. This basic fact provides a pragmatic rationale for many social institutions, such as our moral intuitions and the private-property rights that characterize the market economy.
The overarching importance of economic calculation to the market economyand hence to modern societyis a key them of Murphy (and Mises). Economic calculation is the process that decision-makers use to make rational comparisons between outputs of a production process and the inputs that make them. Nearly all economists agree that economizing on the use of societys scarce resources is necessary for making optimal production choices, but Murphy explains why Misess writings on this subject were path-breaking. Mises showed that economic calculation requires that a society recognize (and enforce) private-property rights not only in consumer goods, but also in the means of production, such as farmland and factories, and it must utilize money. Without these institutions, productivity will suffer, leading ultimately to a breakdown in the division of labor. In short, humanity can reap the benefits of economic calculation only if people allow the free functioning of the market economy.
Catallactics: Economics of the Market Society
Governments throughout history have violated private-property rights and thus have interfered with the operation of the free market. To understand the effects of such interventions, it is necessary to imagine what the world would be like in their absence. How would a free-market economy operate?
In the Misesian vision, entrepreneurs are the driving force of the market, but ultimately they are subject to the final verdict of their bosses, the consumers. The minute details of the formation of market prices (for example, how wage rates and apartment rents are determined, as well as the price of peanut butter) are best understood in this context. Market prices convey information, and they help producers and consumers coordinate their plans in light of individual subjective preferences and objective facts about resources and technologies.
Although some of the material in this section of Choice is standard in book about economic theory, Murphy emphasizes the contributions made by Austrians economics in general and by Mises in particular. Consequently, Murphy lays out the problems that economists in the late 19th century encountered when they tried to apply the new subjectivist framework to moneyand how Mises solved them. Murphy also provides a very readable discussion of banking, as well as the complex topic of capital and interest theory.
The payoff for Murphys methodical groundwork is his exposition of Austrian business cycle theory. As developed by Mises
and his student F. A. Hayek (who won the Nobel Prize in 1974 in part for this work), this theory explains business depressions as the necessary consequence of a preceding boom period. Specifically, commercial banks (nowadays operating in league with the central bank) flood the economy with artificially created money and credit. This credit expansion pushes down the market rate of interest below the natural rate, giving a false signal to entrepreneurs. As a result, the physical capital structure of the economy becomes distorted, setting up businesses and workers for a painful fall when the boom collapses.
Social Cooperation without a Market
After applying the tools of economic science to the study of the pure market economy, Murphy turns his attention to a pure socialist society, in which the state owns all of the means of production and thus decides what will be produced and how the output will be allocated. Here Misess famous argument for the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism comes into play. Without competing buyers and sellers in the markets for factors of production such as farmland, iron ore, and shares of corporate stock, there are no genuine market prices for these inputs, and hence no rational method for even the most benevolent central planners to use to prove that they are helping their subjects.
The Hampered Market Economy
At this point in Choice, Murphy has demonstrated that entrepreneurs in the pure market economy possess the potential to rationally allocate scarce resources in ways intended to satisfy the desires of the consumers. He has also shown that a pure socialist society cannot match their performance; even if socialist planners mean well, without market prices they have no reliable method for discovering how to devote resources to their most important uses. This shortcoming leads some people to mistakenly conclude that the best economic system would rely on a third way, one that harnesses the dynamism of capitalism while retaining the egalitarianism of socialism. Murphy, however, shows that this dream cannot come true.
Interference in the workings of a market economy create unintended consequences that make problems worse. For example, minimum wage laws are intended to boost income among the least-skilled workers, but they result in high unemployment among this demographic. Price ceilings on food, another common proposal, are intended to keep necessities affordable for the poor, yet they result in shortages that often prevent the poor from finding any of the food products subjected to price controls. Echoing Mises, Murphy argues that people must make a choice: Either they support a market economy, even though some of its outcomes may be undesirable in the eyes of some observers, or they support full-blown central planning. Any attempt to strike a balance between the two will be unstable, as new problems will surface that will be subdued by further intervention only temporarily.
The Place of Economics in Society
In the final section of Choice, Murphy explains why the study of economics is unique. When it comes to physics or engineering,
it doesnt really matter whether the public understands the cutting-edge theories. Researchers in these disciplines can produce their results independent of public opinion, in ways that will speak for themselves, in the form of faster computers and bridges that better withstand natural disasters.
In contrast, for the results of economic science to be useful, it is necessary for public opinion to support the institutions of the market economy. It matters little that economists themselves understand the benefits of free trade, if politicians habitually cater to
an ill-informed electorate by imposing trade tariffs. Following Mises, Murphy concludes Choice by urging readers to join the crusade to spread the ideas of economic liberty far and wide. Ultimately, the choice is: cooperation versus compulsion; prosperity versus stagnation; civilization versus barbarism. The choice is ours.
No one working today rivals Robert Murphy in his superb book, Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise and Human Action, with an all-too-rare, lively writing that engages as well as instructs the general public. And what Murphy offers here is no mere primer. In its own right, this volume is a creative, comprehensive, and unusually accessible book on economic science and free markets. Choice is something quite unique: a genuine treatise on economics that instructs and entertains even non-economists. Any reader of this book will learn both the important basic truths about the science of economics and the crucial value of individual choice, entrepreneurship, and free markets.
Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics; Senior Fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; and the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair, Mercatus Center; George Mason University
Robert Murphys excellent and much-needed book in economics, Choice, is like that of a brilliant but utterly lucid professor of English guiding the reader into Milton or Shakespeare. It makes her want to turn to the text itself, and get beyond the misguided rumors we have heard of Paradise Lost or Alls Well That Ends Well.
Deirdre N. McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago
In Choice, Robert Murphys achievement is extraordinary. He not only makes Human Action more easily understandable, but also does what Mises could not do. He relates Misess ideas to late twentieth and early twenty-first century developments in economics and other fields and shows how these ideas are so vitally important for both economists and the general public alike.
Mario J. Rizzo, Professor of Economics and Director, Program on the Foundations of the Market Economy, New York University
Human Action by Ludwig von Mises is the greatest of all economic tomes. In Choice, Robert P. Murphy brings this masterwork down from the summits of theory and history into the hands of todays citizens in the form of a pithy text as topical as headline news and as trenchant as the original work of the Austrian titan himself.
George Gilder, author of Knowledge and Power, Wealth and Poverty and other books; Co-founder, Discovery Institute
Austrian School economists have long emphasized thinking about actions by comparing marginal benefits and marginal costs and the importance of individual freedom to successful societies. If you seek to understand the Austrian economists way of thinking, Choice is a great place to start. Robert Murphy does an excellent job leading the reader through the key insights in Ludwig von Misess classic Human Action and then expanding upon them. He uses clear examples to show the similarities and differences between Austrian, Marxist, classical, and neoclassical approaches to economic reasoning. I strongly recommend it.
Price V. Fishback, Thomas R. Brown Professor of Economics, University of Arizona; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research; Executive Director, Economic History Association
Ludwig von Misess Human Action remains the premier presentation of Austrian economics. Its 900 pages, however, doubtlessly inhibits many people from reading this masterpiece. With his wonderful book Choice, Robert Murphy presents a convenient solution for such people: in 300 pages, he presents a very readable précis of Human Action, one whose fine quality will surely inspire many readers to turn to Mises himself.
Richard E. Wagner, Harris Professor of Economics, George Mason University
In Choice, economist Robert Murphy has achieved the much-needed idea of rendering Ludwig von Misess masterwork, Human Action, in prose that is user-friendly to 21st century speakers of English with no prior training in economics. The result is a great readand by preserving the core insights of Austrian economics in this way, Murphy has performed an invaluable service.
Gene Epstein, Economics and Books Editor, Barron's National Business & Financial Weekly
If you want to learn how to take simple economic concepts and render them completely incomprehensible, begin by reading books on calculus, linear algebra and statistics. On the other hand, if you want to get a solid understanding of how global cooperation and prosperity result from giving people the freedom to pursue their goals, subject to the information and incentives communicated through market prices, put Robert Murphys great book Choice on your reading list.
Dwight R. Lee, Scholar in Residence, ONeil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, Southern Methodist University
Ludwig von Mises was arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. His path-breaking contributions in economic theory and comparative political economy assured his enduring fame as the most consistent expositor of the classical liberal philosophy in the 20th century and the main argumentative target of positivist philosophers of economic science, of formalistic developers of economics theory, of modelers of market socialism, and of practitioners of Keynesian macroeconomic management. Mises was not only the greatest economist of his time, he remains arguably the most important economist of our time. The ideas and concepts he developed in Human Action are essential for understanding our contemporary world. Robert Murphys Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action captures the essential Misesian contributions to the science of economics and the history of our time. Students will benefit greatly from a careful reading of Murphy and it will prepare them to better appreciate the depth of Misess contributions. Highly recommended!
Peter J. Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy; Vice President for Research and Director, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; George Mason University
Robert Murphys Choice is the perfect book for those new to the Misesian paradigm and those in need of a refresher course in Austrian School economics. All those who share my belief that increasing understanding of sound economics is vital to the triumph of liberty owe him a special debt of gratitude.
Ron Paul, former U.S. Congressman and Presidential Candidate
Robert Murphy is a gifted expositor and one of the great teachers of Austrian School economics. What a delight to see him turn his talents to Misess seminal work! Human Action is a profoundly important book, but its insights are not always accessible to the modern reader. Murphys thorough, engaging, and funny book Choice will help spread Misess message far and wide.
Peter G. Klein, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University
A condensed and readable version of Ludwig von Misess Human Action would be a significant contribution to economics. Perhaps some of those economists, who have either never heard of Mises or dismiss his work without looking at it, would be willing to devote a little time to such a book and begin to appreciate how important his contributions should be for their own work. Such a book now exists in Choice that places Human Action in the context of Misess own body of work as well as the evolving literature of Austrian School economics and other schools of thought. He does so in an eminently readable and short volume that will be easily understood by both non-economists and economists. Choice would certainly further serve as an excellent undergraduate textbook for students in a course in Austrian economics.
Bruce L. Benson, DeVoe Moore and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics, Courtesy Professor of Law, and Director of the BB&T Program in Free Enterprise, Florida State University
Choice does fine work in restating and updating the Austrian schools approach to understanding economics using language and concepts comprehensible to wider, non-specialist audiences. Refreshingly free of rhetorical excesses, Robert Murphys text provides a clear roadmap to thinking like an Austrian about the challenges facing the American and global economies.
Father Robert A. Sirico, President, Acton Institute; author of the best-selling book Defending the Free Market
From market pricing and rational economic calculation to the folly of price controls and the wild swings of the business cycle, Robert Murphys Choice examines the main topics of Misess magnum opus, Human Action, in a way that makes the whole work much more accessible to laypeople and undergraduates alike. If youre looking for a fresh, contemporary, and clearly written presentation of core Austrian School ideaswhich are as relevant today as everChoice successfully meets the demand. I recommend it highly.
David L. Prychitko, Professor of Economics, Northern Michigan University
Nearly fifty years have passed since Ludwig von Mises produced the thirdand his finaledition of Human Action. And now thanks to Robert Murphy in his important book Choice, we have the essentials of Misess famed treatise well tailored for 21st-century readers together with revealing comparisons of Austrian economics with the modern-day mainstream alternative.
Roger W. Garrison, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Auburn University
Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, by Robert Murphy, is one of the best introductions to the foundations of modern Austrian School economics that I have ever read, especially of the work of its great founder, Ludwig von Mises. Its clarity of writing and stress on the fundamentals of Mises differentiates it from other works, such as those by Thomas Sowell and Henry Hazlitt. Murphy focuses on and translates Misess key ideas (not just those in Human Action) into terms that any intelligent layperson and student can follow. In this regard he reveals Mises as a great teacher and scholar who devoted his life to exposing fallacies in the application of economic principles. We owe Murphy a great debt for this book, and one can only hope that it will be a smashing success both as a textbook and a book read by the general public. I highly recommend that you get a copy and read it.
Robert D. Tollison, J. Wilson Newman Professor of Economics, Clemson University
Choice is a welcome booka well-written, penetrating presentation of Ludwig von Misess economic analyses and insights. A most compelling read.
Steve H. Hanke, Professor of Applied Economics, Johns Hopkins University
Robert Murphy is to be congratulated for producing the very fine book, Choice. This volume is worthy of being considered as the final entry in a great trilogy of the Austrian School of economics, along with Ludwig von Misess Human Action and Murray Rothbards Man, Economy, and the State.
Lowell E. Gallaway, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Faculty Associate in the Contemporary History Institute, Ohio University
Robert Murphys Choice is a fresh take on perhaps the greatest work on economics of the twentieth century, Ludwig von Misess magnum opus, Human Action. Written in a contemporary, approachable prose, Murphys engaging style enlivensfor the layperson and specialist alikethe otherwise, seemingly, tedious concept of economic calculation. The reader will clearly understand that economic calculation underpins modern civilization and is possible only within the framework of a market economy, as Murphy correctly points out. I can only think that Mises would have endorsed Murphys excellent book with enthusiasm and hope for a broader understanding of economics.
Giancarlo Ibarguen, Director of the Centro Henry Hazlitt and former President, Francisco Marroquin University
In Choice, Robert Murphy has done a great service by restating and extending for the modern era the works of Mises, Hayek, and other Austrian School economists. I expect this will be the go-to text used by the next generation of students to discover the importance of market processes for human flourishing.
Robert A. Lawson, Jerome M. Fullinwider Chair in Economic Freedom, ONeal Center for Global Markets and Freedom, Southern Methodist University
One reason the writings of Ludwig von Mises have not penetrated college curricula and the general public may be that Robert Murphy had not yet written Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. I have resisted using Mises in undergraduate classes because, frankly, he is a difficult read. Murphy, on the other hand, writes clearly and concisely. His audience includes fellow economists, but is far broader than that. I can give this book as a gift to friends and family outside academia. And I can certainly use it in my university courses.
Randy T. Simmons, Professor of Economics and Finance, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University
Vermont Royster, former editor of the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, wrote that Ludwig von Misess magnum opus, Human Action, belonged on the bookshelf of every thinking man. The same can be said of Robert Murphys wonderful book, Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. Murphy has written a comprehensive study of the science of economics that is accessible to a wide audience. In tracing the implications of purposive human behavior, this important book provides crucial insights into the foundations of a free and prosperous world.
Christopher J. Coyne, F.A. Harper Professor of Economics and Associate Director, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, George Mason University
Misess Human Action has long been the most important and most challenging book to read on Austrian economics. Robert Murphy has substantially reduced the challenge by presenting the books ideas in an accessible form, linked to contemporary concerns. Choice also provides an excellent introduction to the Austrian school in general. It deserves to be read, and read widely, and will contribute significantly to fulfilling Misess own desire that everyone should know economics, not just experts.
Steven G. Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University
In the masterly book Choice, Robert Murphy discusses the most serious issues of and powerful challenges to an open society. With rigor and wit he shows the importance of the role of ideas.
Alberto Benegas-Lynch, Jr., President, Economic Science Section, National Academy of Sciences, Argentina
Choice is a masterful, modern, witty exposition of the principles of Austrian economics: it simultaneously provides a delightful guide to Ludwig von Misess incomparable Human Action, but also something morea long-due sequel to it.
Kevin Dowd, Professor of Finance and Economics at Durham University and Professor Emeritus of Financial Risk Management at the University of Nottingham, England
In Choice, Robert Murphy is to be congratulated for making the insights of Ludwig von Misess great magnum opus, Human Action, easy to understand with logic and historical examples.
Mark A. Skousen, Presidential Fellow, George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University; Founder and Producer, FreedomFest, Inc.
In Choice, Robert Murphy has provided a wonderful primer on Misess master work, Human Action. Austrian School economists may find it most useful, but non-Austrians will benefit enormously from this clear explanation of the principles of Austrian insights and where Austrian and mainstream economics both agree and differ, and why.
Dennis C. Coates, Professor of Economics, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Research Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia
If there is an economist out there who combines scholarly rigor with accessibility to the layman the way Robert Murphy does, I have not met him. If you are looking for an excellent, intermediate book between Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises, you will find it in Choice.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute
Robert Murphys new book Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise and Human Action is critical reading for students and citizens alike. It is timely, accessible, engaging and builds on the important intellectual work of Ludwig von Mises. If we are to protect freedom, secure liberty, and roll back the ever-expanding state, we must arm ourselves with the economic way of thinking. Murphys important work is vital in our endeavor to advance a free and flourishing society.
Anne Rathbone Bradley, Vice President of Economic Initiatives, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics; Visiting Professor, Georgetown University; Visiting Scholar, Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy
Ludwig von Mises was the most important economist of the 20th century. He addressed the centurys biggest economic questionsocialism or capitalismwith an early and devastating criticism of socialism and defense of capitalism. Mises was right when so many others were wrong because of his deep insights into human action that have implications across the social sciences. In Choice, Robert Murphy ably examines Misess insights and refreshes them for a new generation.
Kurt A. Schuler, Senior Fellow, Center for Financial Stability
Robert Murphy is a master communicator. In Choice he makes the main ideas from the most important economics book of the 20th century, Human Action, accessible to the average person. Once normal people read this they'll never look at economic policies the same way again.
Benjamin W. Powell, Director, Free Market Institute, Texas Tech University
Choice offers the reader who is unfamiliar with economics an accessible and lucid exposition of the core concepts of economics. By showing both the benefits and limits of economic calculation, the author overturns caricatures about the core assumptions of economic analysis, including assertions such as economics reduces everything to money and in economics only profits matter. Through its reliance on the organizational structure of Misess Human Action and its thoughtful usage of modern examples explaining the consequences of government intervention with the market process, this book helpfully prepares the reader to explore more fully the major works in Austrian economic thought. Choice is to be recommended as an attractive introduction to the social gains from relying on the market exchange process and a realistic exposition of the consequences of artificial regulations constraining the choices of producers, investors, laborers and consumers.
Edd S. Noell, Professor of Economics, Westmont College; Book Editor, Faith and Economics
Choice is the book needed for teaching Austrian School economics. It is accurate, comprehensive and readable. But it is more than a good text for students. It is also a very good starting point for mainstream economists who become uneasy about the sterile pursuit of curves and equations and frustrated with the failure of top-down planning and intervention. Murphy provides a low-cost way for everyone to consider the Austrian alternative.
Charles W. Baird, Professor Emeritus of Economics, California State University, East Bay
Robert Murphy is a very talented communicator of economic ideas. In Choice, he has taken an immensely complex body of theory and deeply rich intellectual history and distilled it into a manageable framework for novice and intermediary readers alike. This book will be a great way for unfamiliar readers to gain a thorough understanding of economics via an engaging and entertaining read.
Daniel J. DAmico, William Barnett Professor of Economics, Loyola University New Orleans
With the publication of Choice, Robert Murphy joins Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard in the ranks of master teachers. His complete command over the entire discipline of economics, mustered over more than a decade of study since earning his Ph.D. studies at New York University, makes him the ideal guide into the origin, nature, theorems, and applications of economics in the tradition of Carl Menger. Murphys explanations are so succinct and lucid that Choice covers the same ground as Mises covered in Human Action, including philosophical, political, economic, and other types of objections made to his approach from various camps, while only one-third its length. Musicians clamor to gain admittance to classes of instruction in their instruments taught by master performers. Choice is a master class in economics, open and accessible to all.
Jeffrey M. Herbener, Chair and Professor of Economics, Grove City College
Robert P. Murphy provides a helpful and intriguing introduction to the complexity of economics in his book, Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. This is an essential guide for a serious student wishing to understand the field. It also serves as an enjoyable review with numerous insights for seasoned practitioners. The richness and resourcefulness of human actions shines brightly and encouragingly.
Gerald A. Gunderson, Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of American Business and Economic Enterprise, Trinity College
While one of the most important and influential books on economics ever written, Ludwig von Misess Human Action has always had one major flaw; its inaccessibility to most readers. Robert Murphys fantastic book Choice finally offers a condensed restatement of Misess economics treatise in an accessible and engaging format. The most impressive contribution of this book is that it brings clarity without sacrificing rigor.
Daniel J. Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics, Troy University; Book Review Editor, The Review of Austrian Economics
Economics is never a dismal science when Robert Murphy writes about it. The wisdom of one of the finest economists of all time, Ludwig von Mises, comes alive in Murphys excellent volume, Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. However, this book is much more than a worthy restatement of a great mans best work; it stands on its own merits as a superbly accessible discourse on the most relevant social science of our time.
Lawrence W. Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education
Well, this is a delight. After some 65 years of failed attempts to present Ludwig von Misess grand treatise Human Action in a digestible and accessible format, Robert Murphy has finally succeeded. His analysis and presentation are accurate, balanced, informative, and faithful to the authentic spirit of Misess original. Choice will do much good in not only spreading Misess ideas but also in saving them from distortion and caricature. Murphy deserves our congratulations.
Jeffrey A. Tucker, Founder and Chief Liberty Officer, Liberty.me
Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action by Robert Murphy is a wonderful guide to Ludwig von Misess Human Action, a work of rare genius, but one that presents many possible challenges for potential readers. It is for example very long and is organized in such a way that the flow is likely to seem random and haphazard, with multiple references to past intellectual battles. For those who want an authoritative appreciation of its essence, Murphy has provided the solution.
Peter Lewin, Clinical Professor of Finance and Managerial Economics, School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas
Robert P. Murphys Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action seeks to provide the reader with a 'modern, condensed treatment' of Ludwig von Misess Human Action. . . . In Choice, Murphy uses Human Action as the primary source, but, as a good professor, focuses his efforts not on simply relaying what is already 'in the book,' but on emphasizing the important, explaining the difficult, and elucidating the context. The result is a book that can serve as a companion toor, for many, even a substitute forreading Misess rather imposing Human Action. . . . Choice provides the necessary background, modern vocabulary, and reasonable length that Human Action lacks. . . . Often, brevity breeds clarity. Choice focuses, then, on the true core of Mises's thought, and explains it clearly. . . . I highly recommend Choice to anyone who is interested in a book-length introduction to Mises's thought but feels intimidated by Misess own works. (Or perhaps has tried them, but found that Mises demanded far too much background knowledge.) Speaking as someone who has read Human Action, Choice was a useful refresher on the core of what matters most in Misess thought, and, most importantly, why it matters. In the words of Murphy: There is nothing to guarantee that good ideas will trump bad ideas. But what is certain is that the prevalence of faulty ideas in the realm of economics threatens civilization itself.
Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics