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Adam Smith and the Labor Theory of (Real) Value: A Reconsideration

  • Terry Peach
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    This article questions the widely held opinion that Adam Smith confined his use of a labor theory of exchangeable value to an “early and rude state of society” in which independent laborers exchange the surplus products of their labor. It is argued that Smith did not explicitly disavow a more general application for the theory; that he continued to invoke (changes in) quantities of labor as principal determinants of (changes in) exchangeable value in all states of society; and that he had, in his own terms, some theoretical justification for his position. Moreover, it is argued that the lengths to which he went to obtain an association between the concepts of real price/real value and expended labor, ultimately to the point of abandoning his own declared choice of “real measure,” is compelling evidence of his commitment to an albeit rudimentary labor theory of exchangeable value.

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    Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
    Pages: 383-406

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    Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:2:p:383-406
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