The development of price formation theory and subjectivism about ultimate values

Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (3):263–278 (2003)
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Abstract

abstract One sometimes finds leading economic thinkers expounding the metaphysical thesis that the ultimate ethical value of an object reflects nothing about the properties of the object in itself and instead reflects the subjective tastes of the valuer. Could anything in economics qua economics provide a warrant for such ethical subjectivism? And what might tempt economists to speak on such broadly meta‐ethical issues? In this paper we argue that a partial explanation for the subjectivist cast‐of‐mind of much economic theory is to be found in the recent history of price formation theory. (We focus in particular on the so‐called ‘Marginalist’ and ‘Ordinalist’ Revolutions in price theory.) We argue that although such price formation theory provides no warrant for drawing ethical subjectivist conclusions, it does provide an explanation as to why such conclusions might be drawn. Thus we explore how the particular history of the development of what is called ‘value theory’ might well lead one (albeit unwarrantedly) towards ethical subjectivism.

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Idealist Origins: 1920s and Before.Martin Davies & Stein Helgeby - 2014 - In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), History of Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 15-54.

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