Division of Labor and Society: The Social Rationalism of Mises and Destutt de Tracy

Carmen Elena Dorobăț

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Ludwig von Mises’s social rationalist views on society, first discussed in Salerno (1990), do not appear to have any precursors in the history of economic thought. The present paper highlights the contributions of a French philosopher, A.L.C. Destutt de Tracy, to the theory of social development as one precursor of Mises’s theory. I use extensive textual evidence to highlight the important similarities between the social theories presented in De Tracy’s Treatise on Political Economy and Mises’s Human Action. The systematic exposition of these social rationalist views focuses on three aspects: their praxeological foundation, the economic factors which bring about human association, and the global consequences of these social phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-455
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

This article is available under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No-Derivatives license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ )


  • social theory
  • rationalism
  • human action
  • division of labor
  • Ludwig von Mises
  • Destutt de Tracy


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