Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XI: the antinomy of value and the service of value - Natural Value
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CHAPTER XI: the antinomy of value and the service of value - Friedrich von Wieser, Natural Value 
Natural Value, edited with a Preface and Analysis by William Smart (London: Macmillan, 1893).
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the antinomy of value and the service of value
As consequence of the observation that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the value of possessions increases with economic prosperity, the exceptions have been either entirely forgotten, or put on one side as unessential and unimportant disturbances. The idea has gone abroad that value is the highest principle in economic life, and that all our economic action must be regulated with reference to it. It has been said that people should so act as to obtain on the whole the greatest amount of value.
If this idea were correct, our economic life would be directed by a power which would, in some measure, work against the aims of economic conduct; to the extent, namely, of preventing the realisation of economic ends beyond a certain point; that is, beyond the up grade of value. And one would be justified in speaking of an antinomy in the law of value, which would refer not only to exchange value, as Proudhon has asserted, but to every form of value. It would be expedient for every one, not only from a money-making and selling point of view, but in his own private economy—even for a Robinson Crusoe who could not sell at all—to convert superfluity into want, and want into greater want, in order to create and increase value. No one, however, would wish to act in this way, and it is therefore untrue that value has the guidance of our economies The highest principle of all economy is utility. Where value and utility come into conflict utility must conquer; there is nothing in the nature of value which could give it the ascendency. Utility is imperfectly contained in value, with the accompanying peculiarity that the amount of utility which is contained is intimately associated with the very idea of goods. But this latter phenomenon cannot have the effect of preventing any one from entering into transactions which a complete addition of the utilities to be got from the goods acquired would show to be profitable. If I were able, by any method whatever, to secure for myself a constant superfluity of all the services of goods, the idea that my interest need not thereafter be carried over from the services to the goods themselves, would not cause me a moment's hesitation in securing the superfluity. Or suppose that I expected a great amount of utility from some transaction, and the transaction at the same time caused me a certain loss of interest in the goods, this latter circumstance would not deter me in the faintest degree from carrying through the transaction.
Under these conditions, then, what service remains for value to render in economic life? A highly important one. The cases where there is a conflict between value and utility—where increase of the one is decrease of the other—occur but seldom. Experience shows that economic life moves almost always on the “up grade,” and here the tendencies of increase or decrease are similar for value and utility. Whenever the utility of a stock increases with the augmentation of the stock, the value also increases, and whenever the utility of a stock decreases with a diminution of the stock, the value also decreasea A greater value almost always corresponds with the greater utility, and a lesser value with the lesser utility, and on this account transactions which commend themselves in consideration of their utility, commend themselves also in consideration of their value. The service of value consists, then, in representing utility wherever both show the same tendency. We do not calculate utilities; we calculate values. Value is the form in which utility is calculated, and this renders calculation infinitely more easy. It is difficult indeed to estimate the utility of a stock; easy to estimate its value. That is to say, the value of a stock can be expressed as the single product of stock and marginal utility; it is a multiple of the marginal utility: whereas utility can be expressed only by a sum which contains as numerous and as various amounts as the stock contains items. The utility, for instance, of a harvest of a million quarters can be represented only by an almost inexhaustible description of all the benefits accruing from it, from its greatest effects down to those of the least important employments economically permissible in the circumstances of the case. The value of this same harvest is easily and shortly ascertained by multiplying the utility of the marginal employments by the whole amount. Mathematically expressed, the formula for expressing the utility of a stock of 50 items, the most intense use of which—that of the first item—reaches the figure of 100, if we assume a regular decrease in intensity for every successive item, will run:—100 + 99 + 98 + ... 51. But the value formula will be simply:—50 × 51.1
The simplification of economic calculation by the use of a value instead of a utility measurement is noticeable in proportion to the economic state of development, While the utility formula becomes continually more wearisome and less clear, the value formula becomes more comprehensive and uniform, particularly through the entrance of costs,—which we shall discuss later. Where money is the medium of exchange everything is measured equally, for purposes of trade, according to its money value; all utility in its illimitable variety is reckoned by the value of coin, the separate items of which are all equal to each other, and the amounts of which appear in the calculations as multiples of one and the same unit.
It is the possibility of calculating utility in terms of value which first puts us in a position to draw out exact economic plans and foresee their necessary limitation. Thus value comes to be the controlling power in economic life.
EXCHANGE VALUE AND NATURAL VALUE
The value formula is an abridged utility formula. Only that part is left out which, on the one hand, renders calculation more difficult, and, on the other hand, is really unnecessary as an adequate motive to economic actions; viz. that surplus utility which is above the marginal utility. Economic actions which have value (in the up grade) for their motive, are not only approximately, but completely and exactly weighed and limited. The greater utility is always reached when the greater value is aimed at.