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Adam Smith, Value and the Taste of Beauty


  • Jimena Hurtado


The founding question in economics of how the market works, and thus, the question of value and prices, was part of a larger question on social coordination during the Enlightenment. This broader context implies an exploration of human nature and, in the case of Adam Smith, of the principles of the human mind. The interpretation of Smith's theory of value has received much attention over the years, with some claiming it as a labor theory or a cost of production theory. I propose an alternative interpretation of Smith's theory of value as an expression of social interactions, specifically through the taste of beauty, or aesthetic need.

Suggested Citation

  • Jimena Hurtado, 2023. "Adam Smith, Value and the Taste of Beauty," Documentos CEDE 20685, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:020685

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Henry, 2000. "Adam Smith and the Theory Of Value: Chapter Six Considered," History of Economics Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1), pages 1-13, January.
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    More about this item


    Adam Smith; value; taste; aesthetics.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)

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