An introduction to the theory of value by William Smart

By William Smart

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As no man, however, liveth to himself, these valuations come together and are compared in every act of barter and exchange. The reflex influence of the valuations that each man meets in any market, however simple, is very great; constant contact of man with man in exchange assimilates the valuations of all, till, unconsciously, we come very much to regard the average valuation made by the people we meet as our own valuation. For instance, in buying an article, if we looked solely and entirely to what that article represented in life, pleasure, satisfaction, self-realisation—however we name our subjective centre—we should, perhaps, value it at ioo.

One sack he destines for his daily allowance of bread. Another he devotes to cakes, puddings, and the like. He cannot use more than these in eating, so he devotes a third to feeding poultry, and a fourth to the making of a coarse spirit. With these four sacks, we shall say, he is able to satisfy all the wants that occur to him as capable of being v THE MARGINAL UTILITY 33 directly satisfied by corn, and, having no more pressing use for the fifth sack, he employs it in feeding dogs and cats and other domestic animals, the companions of his lonely life.

Suppose that a thrifty housewife has laid in her winter stock of butter, and that by some accident it gets spoiled. Will she be likely to do without butter for the rest of the winter ? She will, of course, replace the butter, and do without some comfort or luxury which she would otherwise have allowed herself. That is to say, she will shift the loss to the least sensitive part of her total expenditure. Some part of the total satisfaction must be given up, and this will always be the least in her particular scale.

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