What Is The Paradox Of Value?


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This phrase was first used by Scots economist Adam Smith (1723-1790).  In his theory  he wonders how a diamond can be so tremendously valuable, but have no inherent worth i.e. It is not necessary to life, whilst water which is central to living is practically worthless.    He recognised that it was possible that this was the case because water is plentiful but diamonds are not, but this would not account for the price of the commodity not the value.  Yet we would all value a diamond more than a jug of water.  He concluded that the difference in value was caused by the fact that diamonds are labour intensive in the sense that they have to be extracted cut, shaped and polished, whereas water can be esaily obtained by anyone.  This means that water may have a greater use value than diamonds, but it has a much lower exchange value and this was his paradox of value!

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