no third solution

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On Value, Subjective

November 2nd, 2009

One accusation I’ve seen raised against the subjective theory of value is that the Subjectivists are guilty of equivocation, substituting the perception of value (a subjective, self-local opinion) for “value” (defined as a property innate to an object or product).

Menger makes it abundantly clear, however, and takes pain to repeat himself on several occasions in Principles, Ch.3, that no such property or characteristic as “value” exists in the first place.

Value is therefore nothing inherent in goods, no property of them, but merely the importance that we first attribute to the satisfaction of our needs, that is, to our lives and well-being, and in consequence carry over to economic goods as the exclusive causes of the satisfaction of our needs…

The value of goods is therefore nothing arbitrary, but always the necessary consequence of human knowledge that the maintenance of life, of well-being, or of some ever so insignificant part of them, depends upon control of a good or a quantity of goods…

[Value] is a judgment economizing men make about the importance of the goods at their disposal for the maintenance of their lives and well-being. Hence value does not exist outside the consciousness of men.

At a glance then, it is not the Subjectivists who are guilty of equivocation. It is exactly the opposite.

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no third solution

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