Front Page Titles (by Subject) N - Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 4 (LF ed.)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
N - Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 4 (LF ed.) 
Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, in 4 vols., ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). Vol. 4.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Nabob. Formerly, a provincial governor or viceroy who lived luxuriously in India. Later, an Englishman who returned wealthy from a tour of duty in India. Hence, any very rich man who lives luxuriously.
Nationalism. The view that the interests of all citizens within a nation are harmonious, that the individual can fare well only if his nation flourishes, and that there is an irreconcilable conflict of interests among the various nations. Nationalism is the necessary derivative of interventionism and national planning.
National Recovery Administration (1933–36). The United States Governmental agency charged with the administration of the National Industrial Recovery Act (1933). This was one of the basic acts of the New Deal (q.v.). This Act required the representatives of the employers and employees of every industry to draw up a code of “fair practices” for approval and enforcement by the NRA. These codes provided for Federal Government control of prices, wages, working conditions and trade practices. The Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional in May 1935. The provisions regulating employer-employee relations were then rewritten in the (Wagner) National Labor Relations Act (1935), which was subsequently held to be constitutional (1937).
National socialism. A system of socialism which seeks a specially privileged position for the members of a definite nation. The pre–World War II German National Socialist Party aimed at a socialist organization of the world in which the people of “pure German blood” would be assigned a privileged position, while members of the “inferior” races would be assigned tasks where they would serve the “master (German) race.” See “Socialism,” “Nazi” and “Socialism of the German pattern.”
Natural law, or the laws of nature. These terms are used in two senses: (1) The inflexible regularities of the physical and biological phenomena which form the subject matter of the sciences of physics, chemistry, medicine and biology. The actions of men are restricted and conditioned by these laws and thus a knowledge of them is necessary for successful action. (2) The idea that there is an arbitrary eternal standard for determining which human actions are just and therefore beneficial to society and which are not. Many Scholastics (see “Medieval scholasticism”) held that natural law was a part of divine law while more recent theorists tend to hold that natural law is a body of rules and customs with which man-made laws should conform for the good of society. Since there is no scientific basis for determining the content of natural law, it is used largely in a vague metaphysical sense and few people agree as to its specific meaning. Consequently, some people resort to the term “natural law” as a justification of social actions or programs they endorse, but which they find themselves unable to define explicitly or defend logically.
Natural right. An illusory right supposedly conferred upon individuals by natural law (q.v., sense 2). The emptiness of appealing to any “natural” right becomes evident when an opponent claims a contrary or inconsistent “natural” right. Such differences can only be resolved by resort to sound and effective reasoning.
Natural sciences. Branches of knowledge collectively which deal directly with the phenomena exhibited by natural objects, organic or inorganic, and their substances. There exists among such entities an inexorable regularity in the concatenation and sequence of natural events or physical phenomena. While measurements of such substances may not be precise, they are sufficiently so to permit the use of laboratory experiments and observation for measurements and quantification of knowledge. Sometimes referred to as the physical or empirical sciences, the natural sciences include biology, geology, medicine, physics, chemistry, etc., but not the human sciences, mathematics, philosophy or metaphysics.
Navicularii, (Latin). Shipowners.
Nazi, (German). Short for Nationalsozialist, a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party, led to power by Adolf Hitler (1889–1945). Also used as an adjective to signify a connection with the Nazi Party or its policies. Hitler based his absolute dictatorship upon central planning, “Socialism of the German pattern” (q.v.), and his popularity upon appeals to nationalism, anti-Semitism and anticapitalism. The Nazis, under Hitler, ruled Germany from 1933 to the end of World War II in 1945. Mises then said the Nazi dogmas were those of present-day (1944) “‘unorthodox’ orthodoxy,” which Fabians and Keynesians were unable to refute. See also “National socialism.”
Negative price premium. See “Price premium.”
Neutral money, neutrality of money. The idea that there is or can be some fixed price structure, or interrelationship of all prices, that is independent of the quantity of money and which therefore is not disturbed by changes in the quantity of money. Adherents of this idea hold that changes in the quantity of money affect the prices of all goods and services proportionally and at the same time. This untenable doctrine is the basis for many attempts to maintain a so-called “stable price level” by manipulating the quantity of monetary units. Actually, all changes in the quantity of money must be introduced by changes in the cash holdings of specific individuals whose purchasing power, value scales and spending patterns are thus altered in a manner which affects different prices differently and sets in motion other price changes as the subsequent recipients of such newly induced spending find their cash holdings increased and they in turn change their spending patterns with differing effects on different goods and services. Thus every change in the quantity of money must affect different prices differently and there can be no such thing as the alleged neutrality of money. See “Quantity theory of money.”
Neutral tax. A tax that would collect for the government the funds required for the conduct of public affairs without affecting the mutual relations between individuals or the economic structure of the nation. Such a tax is inconceivable in a market economy where incomes are unequal due to the ever changing data of the marketplace.
New Deal, American. The program of interventionism (q.v.), social legislation (public works, “social security,” etc.) and political expansion of the quantity of money sponsored by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), President of the United States, 1933–45. This political program, which sought to limit and regulate free market operations while providing subsidies for low income and other important political groups, was considered revolutionary at the time and the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional two of the basic Acts, the National Industrial Recovery Act (1935) (see “National Recovery Administration”) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1936). However, a shift in Court opinion after the 1936 elections has resulted in decisions which have found almost all forms of subsidies and interventions to be constitutional. See also Sozialpolitik.
Newtonian mechanics. The fundamental laws of the natural sciences (q.v.) as developed from the extraordinary contributions of Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), natural scientist, mathematician and philosopher, whose chief work was Principia (1687; 2nd edition, 1713).
Nexus. Tie; bond; link; connection or interconnection.
Nominalism. The doctrine that man can only conceive of particular or individual things, persons and events and thus all general or universal terms, such as a tool, a man or a speech, are mere figments of the imagination and non-existing. Opposed to realism, the doctrine that general or universal terms predated particular or individual terms and thus have substantial reality. Nominalists tend to distrust abstractions and deductive reasoning while leaning on experience and the direct observation of experiments.
Nominal wage rates. Wage rates in monetary terms without reference to the value of such wages in terms of what they will buy or provide. See “Real wage rates” for contrast.
Nonascetic. Pertaining to those who do not practice asceticism (q.v.).
Non liquet, (Latin). It is not clear or proven; used legally for verdicts deferring a decision in doubtful cases.
Non sequitur, (Latin). Literally, “it does not follow.” Given the conditions or situation set forth, a non sequitur is a fallacy, illogical inference or unwarranted conclusion.
Nonspecific factor of production. A factor of production (q.v.) which has equal values in the production processes of more than one particular type of economic good or service and is thus capable of alternate uses, as opposed to specific factors of production (q.v.). Examples of nonspecific factors of production are unskilled labor and such raw materials as iron ore and raw cotton.
Normans. Successors to the Vikings (q.v.) who seized and settled in Normandy (area northwest of Paris, France, bordering on the English channel) in the ninth and tenth centuries. Their name is derived from Northmen or Norsemen, terms then used for Scandinavians. They adopted Christianity and the French language before undertaking conquests in England, Sicily, parts of Italy and France. Once victorious, the Normans established law and order, while accepting many of the customs of the countries they conquered. In Sicily and southern Italy, they took the part of the downtrodden Christians against their Saracen masters. The best known Norman was William II (1027–87), Duke of Normandy and a pretender to the English throne. On the death of Edward the Confessor (1002–66), he invaded England with the Pope’s approval and defeated King Harold II in the Battle of Hastings (1066). He was crowned King William I of England, and is known as William the Conqueror. Within five years, he conquered all England, established feudalism, granted the lands to his henchmen and installed Normans in all official Church and State positions.
Normative discipline. A branch of learning that has a set of standards or rules of conduct by which to test, judge or evaluate its subject matter, such as ethics, aesthetics, logic and politics.
Nouveaux riches, (French, pl.). Those who have recently become rich.
Numeraire. An abstract unit of account in a system of social accounting advocated by certain monetary reformers who have held that its use in place of money would provide a perfectly neutral medium for recording exchanges and one which would have no effect on the exchange ratios of market transactions. The concept of such a numeraire is illusory and its employment in economic thinking is misleading.