Economists’ “Subjective Value” and Ayn Rand’s Objective Value Reconciled - The Objective Standard
Image of Carl Menger: Wikimedia Commons

Image of Carl Menger: Wikimedia Commons

After TOS Blog published my article, “Ayn Rand Was Right: Cats Are Objectively Valuable,” several people challenged this idea on Facebook. They claimed that the theory of objective value I presented (based on Ayn Rand’s moral theory) somehow implies that Marx’s labor theory of value (i.e., that value is merely a function of labor) is true, that value can exist apart from a valuer, that an objectively valuable thing will have equal value to everyone, or the like. All such claims about objective value are in error.

Objective value does not mean that something has value apart from a valuer (the term for that theory is intrinsicism), nor does it mean that an objectively valuable thing is valuable to every person, nor does it mean that an objectively valuable thing has the same value to every person who values it.

What does objective value mean? Something is objectively valuable when the person seeking the object in question does so rationally, with the aim of genuinely advancing his life and happiness. Some but not all objective values are also universal values, meaning they are necessary to the life of every person. For example, food is objectively valuable to every person, because every person needs food in order to live. Wheat, by contrast, is objectively valuable only to those who eat it in order to further their lives and happiness; it is not objectively valuable to people who don’t care for wheat or to people with celiac disease (indeed, it is objectively harmful to the latter). Morphine is objectively valuable to a person using it for pain relief while recovering from invasive surgery; it is objectively harmful to a person who abuses the drug. We could multiply examples.

Whether something furthers one’s life or hinders it is a factual matter; it is not a matter of subjective opinion. That a human being needs food in order to live is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact. That shooting huge quantities of morphine into your veins for “fun” is detrimental to your life is also a matter of fact. Even if a drug abuser pretends that his drugs further his life, in fact, they damage it. If someone subjectively feels that he can live on sunshine and rainbows rather than on food, and acts accordingly, we all know the inevitable outcome. Whether someone is alive or dead is a fact, not a subjective interpretation. . . .

Return to Top
ad
ad
ad
ad
You have loader more free article(s) this month   |   Already a subscriber? Log in

Thank you for reading
The Objective Standard

Enjoy unlimited access to The Objective Standard for less than $5 per month
See Options
  Already a subscriber? Log in

Pin It on Pinterest