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The labor-theory of value presupposes that there is reasonable equality between the value of labor of different laborers. But this is clearly wrong: an Einstein or Picasso or Mozart can produce works of immense perceived benefit for very little labor (comparatively).

Once you get into widely differing values of labor (due to talent, due to accessibility of natural resources, etc.), you lose most of the benefit of focusing exclusively on labor. How do you understand luxury items, for instance, which are in practice almost exclusively traded for small amounts of labor of the highly paid? How do you understand the appeal of limited resources like gold, diamonds, and rare earth metals, and the relative advantage of those who supply them? Of course you can call an average person-hour your standard unit of wealth instead of one dollar or the resources to raise an infant to an adult, but you're just picking another currency from among many possibilities.

There's also the thought experiment of a world where labor accomplished nothing (e.g. due to extensive automation). People would still value things differentially. And there's the neurophysiological evidence that dopamine pathways are heavily involved in the assessment of value, but it seems unlikely at best that labor alone counts as a cost in that system. (Though there are rodent experiments where they do pit rewards against labor, so it certainly plays a role even in rodents.)

So it's a useful idea but not the whole story. In a world of identically-capable individuals with uniformly distributed resources, maybe it would be the whole story. But that's not the world we live in.

The labor-theory of value presupposes that there is reasonable equality between the value of labor of different laborers. But this is clearly wrong: an Einstein or Picasso or Mozart can produce works of immense perceived benefit for very little labor (comparatively).

Once you get into widely differing values of labor (due to talent, due to accessibility of natural resources, etc.), you lose most of the benefit of focusing exclusively on labor. How do you understand luxury items, for instance, which are in practice almost exclusively traded for small amounts of labor of the highly paid? How do you understand the appeal of limited resources like gold, diamonds, and rare earth metals, and the relative advantage of those who supply them? Of course you can call an average person-hour your standard unit of wealth instead of one dollar or the resources to raise an infant to an adult, but you're just picking another currency from among many possibilities.

So it's a useful idea but not the whole story. In a world of identically-capable individuals with uniformly distributed resources, maybe it would be the whole story. But that's not the world we live in.

The labor-theory of value presupposes that there is reasonable equality between the value of labor of different laborers. But this is clearly wrong: an Einstein or Picasso or Mozart can produce works of immense perceived benefit for very little labor (comparatively).

Once you get into widely differing values of labor (due to talent, due to accessibility of natural resources, etc.), you lose most of the benefit of focusing exclusively on labor. How do you understand luxury items, for instance, which are in practice almost exclusively traded for small amounts of labor of the highly paid? How do you understand the appeal of limited resources like gold, diamonds, and rare earth metals, and the relative advantage of those who supply them? Of course you can call an average person-hour your standard unit of wealth instead of one dollar or the resources to raise an infant to an adult, but you're just picking another currency from among many possibilities.

There's also the thought experiment of a world where labor accomplished nothing (e.g. due to extensive automation). People would still value things differentially. And there's the neurophysiological evidence that dopamine pathways are heavily involved in the assessment of value, but it seems unlikely at best that labor alone counts as a cost in that system. (Though there are rodent experiments where they do pit rewards against labor, so it certainly plays a role even in rodents.)

So it's a useful idea but not the whole story. In a world of identically-capable individuals with uniformly distributed resources, maybe it would be the whole story. But that's not the world we live in.

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source | link

The labor-theory of value presupposes that there is reasonable equality between the value of labor of different laborers. But this is clearly wrong: an Einstein or Picasso or Mozart can produce works of immense perceived benefit for very little labor (comparatively).

Once you get into widely differing values of labor (due to talent, due to accessibility of natural resources, etc.), you lose most of the benefit of focusing exclusively on labor. How do you understand luxury items, for instance, which are in practice almost exclusively traded for small amounts of labor of the highly paid? How do you understand the appeal of limited resources like gold, diamonds, and rare earth metals, and the relative advantage of those who supply them? Of course you can call an average person-hour your standard unit of wealth instead of one dollar or the resources to raise an infant to an adult, but you're just picking another currency from among many possibilities.

So it's a useful idea but not the whole story. In a world of identically-capable individuals with uniformly distributed resources, maybe it would be the whole story. But that's not the world we live in.