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The social construction of value: value theories and John Locke's framework of qualities

Listed author(s):
  • Wilfred Dolfsma

Value theory is central to economics. Whenever new economic theories appear on stage, their theory of value is different. I classify value theories along Locke's lines of primary and secondary qualities. When value is thought to inhere in objects, value is a primary quality. The marginalists perceive value as given to objects by autonomous individuals independent of their environment (much like monads) with given preferences. Value here is a secondary quality. Both are unsatisfactory; value is a social construct. The question arises why social value theory, which Clark and Anderson worked on around the turn of the nineteenth century, did not take root.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 4 (1997)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 400-416

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:4:y:1997:i:3:p:400-416
DOI: 10.1080/10427719700000059
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