Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Vulgar Interpretation of Adam Smith on Value

An anonymous author Blogs at ‘The GeoChristian’ and in the course of a review of 'For the Beauty of the Earth', by Stephen Bouma-Prediger (who may be the source of the quotation content), they write (here):

The natural world has no intrinsic value or value irrespective of its usefulness to humans; rather, “a thing has value only when and if it serves some direct human use or can be exchanged for something else that has value.” (Adam Smith)”

This prompted me to post this piece on the Blog:

I think you are confusing Adam Smith’s statements about exchange value (the ratio by which something exchanges for another) with something that may have a value (aesthetic, utility, beauty, symmetry, elegance, or whatever) in itself.

Adam Smith was a moral philospher. His other book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) would correct your impression of his ideas, which are not often represented well by vulgar modern interpretations by those who write about today’


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