On value

A definition of economics which, however disturbing to economists, would contain a great deal of truth would be ‘The study of collections of essentially diverse objects as though these collections were always quantifiable by one constant unit’. Economics is inherently and essentially imprecise. The only question is how heroic we are prepared to be, or what choice we make between simplification of the type of the Crusoe economy, where most major problems of reality are assumed away and arguments about the remainder can be logically impeccable, and simplifications of the Keynesian and Harrodian type where the need for rough-and-ready quantification is accepted. Any principle for quantifying collections of essentially (i.e. relevantly) diverse things must amount to valuation.

– G. L. S. Shackle [1967]: The Years of High Theory: Invention and tradition in economic thought, 1926-39, p. 255

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Published in: on 16 November, 2007 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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