Individual Judgments, Social Values, and Mimetic Interactions

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The problem of value has always occupied a central place in economic thought and debate.

Joseph Schumpeter maintained that value “must always hold the pivotal position, as the chief tool of analysis in any pure theory that works with a rational schema.” The theory we use still today, neoclassical theory, was the direct result of a conceptual revolution—the marginalist revolution—whose object was in fact just this: value.

The fundamental neoclassical assumption is that questions of value and evaluation are, at bottom, a function of individual judgments. This is why economic theory still takes as its point of departure the analysis of individuals and their desires. “The ultimate goal of human action,” as Ludwig von Mises put it, “is always the satisfaction of the acting man’s desire.