Economists and Philosophers on Value

Lynne Kiesling

Got two spare minutes and want to spend it enriching yourself? Then watch this great Learn Liberty video from Aeon Skoble. Aeon’s a philosopher who also reads a lot of economics, so he’s in a distinctive position to make this important point — both economists and philosophers use the word “value”, but we mean different things by it. For economists, value is subjective and arises from preferences, context, perceptions that individuals possess. For philosophers, value is objective values, like rights, that are part of our objective moral framework for living together as heterogeneous individual agents in civil society. Moreover, the two concepts are complementary; for individuals to be able to act on and satisfy their diverse individual preferences, they rely on living in a social system grounded in respect for individual rights. Aeon explains that distinction beautifully here.