Austrian Tautologies: Altruism

As far as I can tell, we are left exactly where we were after that first essay. No altruism to be found. If you made a “sacrifice” it was, by direct virtue of your action, “worth it to you” (at the time of the action) or you would not have taken that action. It is really just that simple. (By the way, this does nothing the render the action more, or less noble, whichever the case may be in the eyes of an observer.) As a fellow anarchist buddy of mine puts it, “altruism is praxeologically impossible.” Agreed, still.

The basic argument is that the only way one would make a “sacrifice” is if one valued the results of one’s sacrifice to worth more than the costs of the sacrifice. More simply, altruism doesn’t exist because people only act if they believe they will profit. This is simply tautological reductionism based on Misesian rationality.
But this begs a question for Christians: If that which is considered altruistic is actually greed, then what is the spiritual value of giving?
Accepting the definitional impossibility of altruism, I would argue that giving still has spiritual value in that it still teaches sacrifice. Some people make sacrifices in order to afford nice cars; Christians make sacrifices in order to help others. And even if one truly does want to help another person, it doesn’t change the fact that there are opportunity costs, so there is always sacrifice in that sense as well.
Furthermore, there is virtue in in training one’s mind to value helping others over satisfying one’s personal desires. Even if helping others is inherently selfish, as the Austrian school of economics would define it, it is still virtuous to train one’s mind to desire to help others.
Thus, as a Christian who subscribes to Austrian economic analysis, I have little worries about the inherent spirituality of this tautological trick. Even if I am being self-interested by helping others, it doesn’t change the fact that a) I am helping others and b) doing so willingly. That’s what God demands of me, and that’s what I’m going to do.

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