Cigarettes, dollars and bitcoins – an essay on the ontology of money

Journal of Institutional Economics 12 (2):327 - 347 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


What does being money consist in? We argue that something is money if, and only if, it is typically acquired in order to realise the reduction in transaction costs that accrues in virtue of agents coordinating on acquiring the same thing when deciding what thing to acquire in order to exchange. What kinds of things can be money? We argue against the common view that a variety of things (notes, coins, gold, cigarettes, etc.) can be money. All monetary systems are best interpreted as implementing the same basic protocol. Money, i.e. the thing that we coordinate on acquiring in order to lower our transaction costs, is, in all cases, a set of positions on an abstract mathematical object, namely a relative ratio scale. The things that we ordinarily call ‘money’ are merely records of positions on such a scale.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,069

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Ontological Ground of Fetish of Money.Li Zhi - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 17:381-392.
Money.Eric Lonergan - 2009 - Routledge.
Money.Eric Lonergan - 2009 - Routledge.
Money as civilizing ritual.Russell Belk - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (2):180-180.
Money and the medical profession.William F. May - 1997 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 7 (1):1-13.
Classification of functions of money.D. A. Salimonenko - 2013 - Liberal Arts in Russia 2 (5):435--447.
Il denaro è un'opera d'arte (o quasi).Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - Quaderni Dell’Associazione Per Lo Sviluppo Degli Studi di Banca E Borsa 24:17–39.
The Political Philosophy of Money.B. Goodwin - 1986 - History of Political Thought 7 (3):537.


Added to PP

128 (#133,996)

6 months
10 (#147,013)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

J. P. Smit
University of Stellenbosch

Citations of this work

Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Electronic Coins.Craig Warmke - 2022 - Cryptoeconomic Systems 2 (1).
Money Without State.Andrew M. Bailey, Bradley Rettler & Craig Warmke - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (11):1-15.
Money and mental contents.Sarah Vooys & David G. Dick - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3443-3458.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references