How Value May be Shown to be Really Founded on Utility

  • R. D. Collison Black


There is a distinctn. between value in use and value in exchange. Value in use=utility. But then utility is really used very loosely. It is generally used as referring to the ensemble of the qualities which make a thing of use to people generally. Gold is said to be useful because it is valuable, indestructible metal etc., and these qualities are supposed to make its utility. But then it is not useful if buried at the bottom of a mine beyond reach or divided into small particles so that it cannot be collected. In short gold is only useful when capable of being used. So a thing is useful when in a certain relatn. to the people wanting it. But if that be a correct description of utility then we have to distinguish between the whole utility which a thing can be to a person or utility of separate portions of it. Now the degree of utility of any commodity means the utility of the last portion wh. has come into use. Taking any such common article as bread it would ordinarily be said that bread was an exceedingly useful thing. But the question arises is all bread or corn very useful, and I think the answer must be that it is not — that it is only when you have not enough of anything that you want more. Now suppose you have enough, you don’t want more; then if more comes and you can’t use it, it follows that you don’t want it. Many things therefore are not useful. Thus in the Western States of America corn in time of a plentiful harvest is a drug. Then nothing is more unquestionably useful or valuable than meat, but on the plains of America meat is valueless and useless.


Fourth Edition Correct Description Differential Calculus Ordinary Rate Fourth Portion 
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© R. D. Collison Black and Rosamond Könekamp 1977

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  • R. D. Collison Black

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