Under Marx's LTV, the existence of value relies on use-value, as the commodity which has the value isn't a commodity without the use-value (tangible features of the commodity which give it utility). However, does the amount of utility in the use-value change the value of the commodity or is it discarded as a factor once enough exists for the item to become a commodity?

  • marx wouldn't deny that rotten linen has less exchange value
    – user71083
    Jan 20 at 14:44
  • i'm interested in what is motivating the question :) are you interested in the metaphysics or logic of "use value" and "exchange value" or is this a question about economics?
    – user71083
    Jan 20 at 14:53
  • @user66697 I'm talking about value, not exchange value
    – edelex
    Jan 20 at 15:26
  • @user66697 I'm not really sure how to answer your second question. I suppose I would say logic and metaphysics though. It's just coming from a place of trying to form an opinion on theories of value
    – edelex
    Jan 20 at 15:27
  • iirc that has a few different meanings. any specific one?
    – user71083
    Jan 20 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


Basically, no.

According to Marx's Labour Theory of Value (LTV), the amount of utility in use-value is not a factor in the (labour) value (i.e., the substance that underlies both use-value and exchange-value) of a commodity.

The main proposition of the LTV is that the value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labour time required to produce it (viz., the average amount of time spent by workers to produce the commodity under the current social conditions).

Prioritising the production process, the basic Marxist formulation is on the side of classical economical paradigm focusing on production as opposed to consumption and objective view of value as opposed to subjective view of value (for which the amount of utility consumers perceive from a commodity is the primary factor).

Here is an orthodox statement of the Marxist view (from Fundamentals of Political Economy edited by George C. Wang, p. 45):

Among the bourgeois vulgar economists, another utility theory of value was also once in vogue. According to this theory, the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of utility it possesses. What then is "utility"? This is, in fact, the use value of a commodity. We said earlier that various commodities had different use values which were not comparable. It is simply not logical to say that the value of a commodity is determined by its use value. The utility theorists of value could not intelligently explain why such things as air and sunshine, which are essential for human survival, did not possess any value and could not be sold as commodities.

It should be emphasised that characterisation of economical value, and attribution of value in general, is a very complex topic that gives rise to many contested conceptions. There are many different refinements and models of value relations in Marxist economic thought diverging from the formulaic definition.

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