A Short History of Value Theory

Author:Gina Ioan
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2017
A Short History of Value Theory
Gina Ioan1
Abstract: The economic value theory is the core of economics being an interesting concept for all philosophers
and classical and neoclassical thinkers economic until today. The classical thinkers consider that value is born
in production process, and only labor is the source of it. This is the Labor Theory of Value. Marginalist
Revolution economists found the source of value in exchange, in the market building the Marginal Theory of
Keywords: value; price; market; marginal; utility; labor
JEL Classification: B11; B12; B13
1. The Value Theory in Pre-classical and Classical Economic Thinking
Finding how an answer to the question what is the value, it requires a deep analysis of the most
important doctrinal confrontations that occurred from Aristotle to the present day. What we want to
emphasize is that the value, along with many other economic concepts, raised interest of many economic
If for Xenophon, Aristotle and other thinkers of the Middle Ages, the answer was relatively simple, with
the emergence of new forms of wealth created first through trade and later through production,
paradoxically, the concept of value has become more difficult to define.
When Aristotle seek those principles that support a healthy cities (whose purpose is to lead its
individuals to happiness), he speaks about the principle of distributive justice and commutative justice.
About distributive justice, Aristotle claims that equality is not occur when it is distributed each citizen
equally, but true equality exists when it is given more those who deserves more, and less, those who
deserve less.
Talking about justice commutative (contracts, exchanges), Aristotle made an initial discussion on the
value of goods, anticipating both the labor theory of value they find debated by economists XVIII and
XIX centuries and explain, also, the value of things by utility (similar neoclassical).
The exchange, Aristotle argues, cannot exist without equality, and equality cannot exist without
measurability. And Aristotle considers that in effect it is impossible to be measured very different goods.
This statement it was determined Marx to declare that from this point, Aristotle gave up to ana lyze the
form of value. Why? Because Aristotle failed to find the common measure, that element what is identical
Senior Lecturer, PhD, Department of Economics, Danubius University of Galati, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Blvd., Galati
800654, Romania, Tel.: +40372361102, Corresponding author: ginaioan@univ-danubius.ro.

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