ECONOMIST, PHILOSOPHER, and social scientist Ludwig von Mises is considered among the most original and influential libertarian thinkers of the 20th century. Mises was the chief advocate of the subjective theory of value: Philosophers and economists have attempted to understand why different things have different values for different people, why different commodities have different prices, and why the same commodities have different prices at different times.

Classical economics, as well as Karl Marx, adopted the labor theory of value, according to which prices represent the amount of labor put into producing a product. Mises and his Austrian School of economics argued that values cannot be reduced to any “objective” quantifiable empirical property. Instead, values reflect myriad, constantly changing individual subjective preferences.

The subjective theory of value implies ...

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