L'a priori et l'a posteriori en économie


Recherches Economiques de Louvain / Louvain Economic Review

2007, vol. 73, n°1, pp.5-53

Departments: Economics & Decision Sciences, GREGHEC (CNRS)

A previous article investigated the semantic distinction between the analytical and the synthetic, and applied it to microeconomics; in the present one, the fundamental propositions of this field come to terms with the epistemological distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori (or empirical), while an attempt is made to systematize the four concepts. After restating the Kantian definition of the a priori and the famous problem of the synthetic a priori, we introduce two major interpretations of fundamental propositions, i.e., empiricism (as illustrated by the English classical school) and apriorism (as illustrated by von Mises within the Austrian neoclassical school). We rebut both interpretations, the latter with more detail than the former.We conclude that the fundamental propositions are synthetic but neither a priori, nor a posteriori, a category which evades standard divisions. We defend this novel interpretation by studying the law of diminishing returns and the convexity assumption for production sets.