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The IDG is one of the oldest and most respected societies of St. Stephen's College, Delhi. It looks to broaden perspectives by discussing a variety of issues with eminent personalities.

Our talks often throw up some very unexpected answers and, even more often, some very unexpected questions.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Freedom and the Division of Labour: A Misesian Perspective, by David Clarance

The examination of (the) division of labour and exchange is of extreme interest, because
these are perceptibly alienated expressions of human activity and essential power as a
species activity.
Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts 1844

(The) Principle of the division of labour is one of the great basic principles of cosmic
becoming and evolutionary change
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

The great thing about college is that you are always being exposed to new frontiers. David Clarance, a students of III Economics(Hons) at St. Stephen's College, shared his paper 'Freedom and the Division of Labour: A Misesian Perspective' with the Informal Discussion Group. The following is a short abstract of the paper, in his own words:

The natural law of scarcity implies that man is better off as part of society than he is on his own. Being part of society has its own implications for man’s freedom to “run his own life”. The catallactic society imposes certain restricts on the action set of an individual. These restrictions are in the form of natural laws and, what Ludwig von Mises called, praxeological laws. A certain section of liberals have attacked these praxeological laws as unnecessary and excessive. However these praxeological laws brought about by the division of labour are the least undesirable in the context of man’s struggle against nature. Further in the context of Mill’s concern, whereby society conditions individuals to conform to a certain “ideal”, the catallactic pressures (brought about by these praxeological laws) interact with “Millian pressures” to result in different outcomes with respect to an individual’s freedom. The direction depends on one’s belief of the relative scarcity of labour, which in turn are influenced by one’s belief of the role of the division of labour. Following Ludwig von Mises’ analytical structure, I show that catallactic pressures minimize Millian pressures and hence lead to a larger sphere of individual freedom in society.

For those interested, the complete paper can be found at https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B3PkXTkkRFiTSFhidG1tZUJUaTZWbjFManEtS3I0UQ. Check it out, it promises to be an interesting read!

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