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The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics, Second Edition

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

This thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular and authoritative reference work introduces the reader to the major concepts and leading contributors in the field of law and economics. The Companion features accessible, informative and provocative entries on all the significant issues, and breaks new ground by bringing together widely dispersed yet theoretically congruent ideas.
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Chapter 52: Emil Sax (1845–1927)

Manfred Prisching


Manfred Prisching Emil Sax, professor of economics at the German University of Prague from 1879 to 1893 and member of the Austrian parliament, tried to apply Austrian economic theory to politics, state and public finance, and further to all kinds of human communities and social associations. While the Austrian school emphasized methodological individualism and provided the basis for an analysis of the market economy, thus preparing the foundation for the libertarian views of later generations, Sax tried to develop a theory of public economics based on Austrian ideas. Thereby he gained insights into the relation of law, state and economy that deserve a closer look (Neck, 1989). The analysis of individualistic and collectivistic phenomena The mainstream of present economic theory confines its analysis to individual actions, even when collectivistic phenomena are examined. In Sax’s view, however, social circumstances must be derived from two forces, individualism and collectivism. This is an astonishing point of departure for an Austrian economist who claims to cling to the individualistic approach, but nevertheless acknowledges collectivism as a feature of human nature as well as individualism. Individualism is the inborn quality of man who considers himself the centre of the social circle. It is his attitude to relate everything, means and men, to himself. While the individualistic idea of personality is a product of civilization, the germ is present in every person (Sax, 1884, pp. 50f.). However, the efforts of individuals collide with those of other persons as far as individual spheres of activity touch...

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