12. “Mises’ Calculation Argument: A Clarification”

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Abstract: In this article, two separate aspects of Mises’ famous economic calculation argument are identified. The first concerns the fact that the profit-and-loss calculations that drive economic decisions regarding factors of production under capitalism cannot, by definition, take place under socialism since there cannot be any prices on which to base such calculations. The second concerns that idea that, owing to the nature of value, there is no alternative means of allocation, such as a calculus in terms of value. Although both of these points are well-known and frequently invoked to pass a decisive judgment against socialism, they are in fact separate arguments which have thus far been inadequately distinguished in the Austrian literature. The objective of this paper is to highlight this distinction. I further illustrate the point by emphasizing the role of monetary calculation, which nonetheless plays a real role in capitalist economies.

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