Chapter 5. Value

Summary: Economics does not know how to take full account of value beyond its sphere, such as of environment. This may be done systematically using Dooyeweerd's aspects.

===== Draft =====
=== Nearly completed but needs rewriting ===

Value is central to economics; it is Good seen through the lens of economics. Unfortunately, the field of economics has reduced this to monetary value, which ignores most other kinds of value. That was what concerned Mark Carney when he delivered his 2020 Reith Lectures and published his 2021 book, entitled Value(s).

For example when GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is used as a measure of a nation's wellbeing, its 'value' compared with other nations, it misleads in major ways because, by including only monetary transactions, it ignores much good that is not paid for, such as household activity of care and cooking, or cannot be measured by money, such as biodiversity or love. As Mark Carney argued, we need to bring all such kinds of value into economics theory and practice.

But what is value? What kinds of true are there? How may we increase value? How may we assess it? (And what role does money play?)

While Good in the economic aspect may be called prosperity, in other aspects, Good and value are seen differently as, for example, health or vitality (biotic), alertness or responsiveness (psychical), clarity and rationality (analytical), assiduity (formative), splendour (aesthetic), appropriateness (juridical), good (ethical) and meaningfulness (pistic), and so on. This chapter discusses how all these, along with economic value, contribute to Multi-aspectual Good, and begins to show how they may all be recognised within economics theory and practice by employing Dooyeweerd's aspects.

Whereas reductionism in economics and elsewhere tries to reduce all value to economic value (and even to numbers), our discussion in this chapter moves in the opposite direction, to take each kind of value seriously for what it is, yet in ways meaningful to economics. This was a major concern of Carney [2021].

5-1 Values and Economic Value

Summary: There are multiple, irreducibly distinct kinds of value. Economic value is only one kind and needs to be able to express all others faithfully.

Mark Carney expressed the tacit concern that many other recent thinkers had, that value has been reduced to economic value, or even monetized as financial value or price, and much has been lost. This is a form of reductionism and the detachment of economics discussed earlier. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, however, revealed that we know there is something valuable beyond economic value - including nature, silence, fresh air and generosity. So does the climate crisis: biodiversity and climate are of immense value. So did the 2008 credit crisis: trust and appropriateness. Carney called for economic value to truly reflect such values, rather than narrowing what we value down to a price, as so often happens at present.

Other recent thinkers call for a variety of good things to be valued in economics, such as:

In the RLDG, we have discussed these and others. Various economic schools understand value in different ways, and none should be ignored but incorporated in the overall understanding of economics.

Mark Carney's main message was that economic valuing should reflect and incorporate what he called "human values" - responsibility, integrity, resilience, etc. These can be held as what we wish for nostalgically or aspire to wistfully, and such are often expressed in poetry, song and art, and sometimes theorized about by ethicists etc. but our actual values. Actual values are those we hold in our heart rather than our wishes, being what we actually live by or allow ourselves to be driven by. Our real values are within our hidden mindset-attitude. And it is in our economics, the science of value, and our economic activity, where our actual values come to the surface.

When looking at actual activity in affluent cultures and how they percolate the entire world, what are our actual values? Are they unconcern, greed, arrogance, individualism, rivalry, legalism, hypocrisy, self-centredness, idolatry of various things like technology, sexuality and pleasure, [Note: Is That Too Harsh?]- almost the very opposite of Carney's values?

What Brian Edgar listed as "Christian values" might be antidotes of such things (though arguably most are not unique to Christianity):

most of which make an economy, and life in general, more fruitful. (Some are, of course, related to what we call "attitude".) We also discussed Gunton et al.'s [2017; 2021] shift of emphasis away from the noun, value, to the verb valuing.

However, how may we relate these to economic value, if, as discussed earlier, economic activity concerns itself with resource, with a norm of frugality? To see something as resource means seeing it as enabling human functioning that (hopefully) contributes to Multi-aspectual Good and continuing to do so into the future. This kind of contribution to Multi-aspectual Good is the value in all the above, each according to main aspect of the functioning. Then we may see economic value as: goodness of something as a resource to bring Good in all other aspects sustainably. This requires understanding both each aspect and the inter-aspect relationships and interactions.

History shows that each generation of thinkers emphasises certain values and ignores others. The ones ignored are not thereby of zero value; they will arise as important later. It is little use building a new framework around a limited set of values. Fortunately, most future-recognised values are not completely hidden today; it is just that they are not fashionable in academic or professional circles.

What we need is a systematic, sound way to understand the diversity of values, how they interrelate, and how to assess them, in both theory and practice. We need to understand more precisely what value is.

5-2 What is Value?

Summary: Value has been variously understood. We link value of something to the Good in contributes, or could contribute, to Multi-aspectual Good. Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us understand the diversity of kinds of value.

"As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." [Luke 21]

All these raise the question of What is Value? Or, more precisely, Whence arises value? What makes value possible? What makes it possible to value things? What is its origin? Why is it important or meaningful? These questions many be answered in two ways, causally and conceptually (By what mechanisms or functioning does value come about? What is it that makes value meaningful?), though they are often merged together. We briefly overview some theories of value, but then economic value in more detail.

5-2.1 Some Ideas about Value

Summary: Different ideas about what value is. An integrating framework is needed.

We do not plumb the depths of Value Theory here, but mainly understand how value has been categorised in that theory.

Debreu's [1959] Theory of Value, for example, is highly mathematical, his aim being a more rigorous treatment than previously. He presupposes price as value, and price as emerging purely from willingness to pay. He completely fails to think about what value is, which what we need here. There is one positive about his theory of value that is relevant to us, apart from his desire for rigour, is that, in defining "goods", "services", etc., he opens up the multiple aspects that contribute to what they are, including date, location, quality, etc. These are each meaningful in certain aspects.

So we must turn to other literature to understand what value is. Value in general is often categorised as [===== get from Gunton paper]. e.g. Held Values, assigned value, etc. But most of these merely categorise and say little about what makes value possible. Gunton et al. [2017] argues for considering the activity of valuing rather than trying to define precisely a property called "value". It is the aspects that make valuing possible, because we value by reference to a sphere of meaningfulness, which is what Dooyeweerd's aspects are. We value landscape for its aesthetic appeal, its biotic value as ecosystem, its formative value as productive, its economic value as resource, and so on. Gunton et al.'s idea of valuing bridges subjective-objective divide, in that valuing is by a subject, but is always by reference to given possibilities of doing so.

Mazzucato [===] offers a useful outline of how various thinkers charted the origin of value. To early merchantilists, like Sir William Petty and === King, value is the excess of income over expenditure and is generated by astute selling. To physiocrats like Quesnay, value is increased by the generation of new things from existing things, such as plants from seeds or minerals from earth, rather than from mere shaping of things already there, as in human craft - so he valued land. To Adam Smith, by contrast, it was human formative labour that adds value, as found in manufacturing industries, where it is multiplied by machines. Ricardo and Marx developed other versions of this labour theory of value. Then attention switched to subjective views of value, as originating from the free human attribution of value. Subjective value emphasises preferences as value, presumes that the mandate of economics to satisfy those preferences, and often measures preference value by willingness to pay. This is problematic. We will see below that an aspectual understanding of value can embrace and explain all those.

There are two major problems in both objective and subjective views of value. First, why is the value actually Good? For objective ideas of value, we need some justification for why each proposed basis of value is actually Good, and worth taking seriously. For preference-value, Sagoff [2004, 101-2] offers the challenge:

"Economists suppose that the satisfaction of preferences taken as they come on a willingness-to-pay (WTP) basis bounded by indifference curves is a good thing - but why is it good? To explain why preference-satisfaction is a good thing, microeconomists assert a relation between preference and welfare. According to this theory, since welfare is a good thing, and since preference-satisfaction is a means of obtaining it, preference-satisfaction is a good thing."

His "welfare" he also calls "wellbeing" and includes environmental as well as human, thus approximately what we call Multi-aspectual Good. There being no correlation between this and preferences, that entire edifice of economics theory and practice based on preferences can never be relied on to work towards Multi-aspectual Good. Preferences are not value.

Second, most of those are about the origin of economic value, not the origin of value as such, what makes value and valuing possible. - the broader and diverse kinds of value that contribute to Multi-aspectual Good.

5-2.2 Value and Multi-aspectual Good

Summary: Value is contribution to Multi-aspectual Good. Harm, detracting from Multi-aspectual Good, is anti-value.

Insofar as it is the mandate for economics activity to resource contributions to Multi-aspectual Good and economics should be embedded among all other spheres of live, and insofar as there are multiple kinds of value, then we must find a way in which economics can take all kinds of value into account, not only economic value.

Unfortunately, Carney does not show us how. He does not even offer a discussion of what kinds or possibilities of value there may be, though in his concluding chapter he lists "responsibility, fairness, integrity, dynamism, solidarity and resilience" [p.519] as values and, elsewhere, mentions trust, health and ecological sustainability.

With Carney, we see the origin of value as lying in values, i.e. what we value. So the first thing we need is to understand these wider kinds of value and how they are possible.

That is about good; what about harm or evil, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, pandemics, wars, injustices and even harmful attitudes? What about 'useless' activity that is a waste of time and resources and produces little good? How do they fit into value? That is a question that seems to be largely absent from economics discourses, so it needs to be discussed in some detail later, in Chapter 7, Good, Harmful and Useless Economic Activity. However, for now, consider that Harm subtracts from Multi-aspectual Good while useless activity prevents and dilutes Multi-aspectual Good. As we discuss value, always keep things like climate change, crime, selfishness, etc. in mind as a kind of 'anti-value', for which what we are saying applies.

5-2.3 Aspects as Values

Summary: Each aspect defines a distinct kind of value. They may be combined in multi-aspectual things or situations.

Kenter et al. [2019, 1440] describes values as "lenses of worthiness" or "of what is considered to matter". Aspects, as understood by Dooyeweerd, are exactly that: ways of seeing that are inherently define some good or worthiness, and also importance. So we may use Dooyeweerd's aspects as kinds of value. All the supposed origins of value above presuppose one of other aspect.

According to Dooyeweerd, it is the aspects that both make such valuable and also, because we function in those aspects, enable us to subjectively ascribe value to them. In Dooyeweerd the subjective and objective merge and need no longer be opposed to each other, as they have been in most theory of value (such as we find outlined in Mazzucato and Carney). Aspects transcend and always pertain, whether we are aware of them or not, and especially whether they are fashionable or not in a discipline.

Every aspect contributes to Multi-aspectual Good (including ecosystems, climate, health, wellbeing, attitudes, etc. as well as economies), potentially and actually. So each defines a distinct kind of value, with examples given in Table 5-2.3.

Table 5-2.3 Examples of values meaningful in each aspect.

< img src= "pix/t-aspects.val.gif" alt= "Examples of values meaningful in each aspect "> ===== to be supplied

Economic value is only one of these. The kinds of value the that Carney suggested are a subset of Dooyeweerd's aspects taken as values. It is appropriate to do so, because they are spheres of the meaningfulness inherent in Creation, this meaningfulness implies good [Genesis 1], and good implies value.

Seeing value by reference to aspects offers three major benefits to economics. One is that the 'poor' and the poorly-resourced may be seen as of equal importance with the wealthy, the well-resourced, whereas conventional economics gives more importance and attention the wealthy and well-resourced. The functioning of the 'poor' might contribute just as much to Multi-aspectual Good as that of the wealthy - and we note elsewhere that it might even be more, insofar as the wealthy often tend to engage in what we later call Useless or Harmful economic activity.

A second benefit is that we are no longer confined to human-centric value. As mentioned earlier. Gunton et al. [2017; 2022] argue that there is value without reference to human needs or preferences at all, especially in the non-human part of Creation. This is why the Ecosystem Services approach is only a partial solution, which Gunton et al.'s approach goes beyond.

A third is that aspects enable us to include unpaid activity in economics, which has been ignored by economics for too long. We will discuss this later.

5-3 Economic Value And Aspectual Value

Summary: Economic value is the value of an object as resource that enables us to function with wisdom in contributing sustainably to Multi-aspectual Good.

Note: This has still to be discussed, critiqued and refined, so should be treated as a provisional place-holder idea.

How do we bring such disparate kinds of value into economics? We begin by recognising that each kind of value contributes to Multi-aspectual Good (potential or actual) in its own way. The contribution of aspectual value is made when we function well in that aspect, turning potential into actual.

Example: As we function, we engage objects temporally (e.g. using pen to function lingually in writing). The value of a pen is that it enables the poet to write poems that contribute to Multi-aspectual Good. A pen might also have aesthetic value if of high quality, or social value when pens indicate status, or psychical value, of the feel of a good pen gliding over the paper. What is written using the pen also has value, aesthetic value of a poem, social value of the poem's reputation, analytical value and also occasional reputational value of an academic paper, and so on. All these may be viewed simultaneously as economic value when viewed as resource.

Usually, to a pen, the concept of value is applied, but not values. The word "values" is usually applied to abstract goodnesses especially in the later aspects, such as courage (pistic), generosity (ethical), justice (juridical), beauty (aesthetic), self-control (economic) and togetherness (social). The difference however is not absolute; it may merely be according to where in the aspectual sequence the Good that is being referred to lies. Before universal literacy (lingual aspect) and before we were used to technology (formative), literacy and innovativeness might have been seen as values. So here, we treat values as not qualitatively different from value but as merging into each other and differentiated according to aspect.

So, what is economic value? As discussed in Chapter 4, the economic aspect lets us respect objects as resources with limits, so as to be able to continue contributing to Multi-aspectual Good into the future, such as by future generations. (This may be why rare things are often more valued, though value is not restricted to this, because common things have value too.) Good economic functioning is when we use what we deem resources frugally (carefully, giving due respect to the objects). Economic value, then, may be understood as how well those resources (objects) help us contribute to Multi-aspectual Good in a way that can be sustained into the future. Economics always presupposes a future.

This view embraces current views of value but also critiques and enriches them. For example, land (Quesnay) enables the farmer to generate food, which resources biotic contribution to Multi-aspectual Good. Human formative labour in manufacturing (Smith, etc.) generates artefacts that contribute to Multi-aspectual Good in many aspects. This can be finished products like clothes (psychical and aesthetic Good), trains (kinematic Good), pens (lingual Good), etc. or what Dooyeweerd called "semi-manufactured products" such as Smith's examples of pins, which may then be used in further formative functioning, making clothes, or rivets etc. in building trains. Subjective theories of economic value are about human perception of such value, which is a functioning especially in the pistic aspect (believing, committing, taking-to-be) targetting any other aspect that the subject finds of value. Similarly for services.

Our perspective covers all these but also ensures that the future is not forgotten. Too often in current economics, the future is sacrificed for the present. Indeed, the widely-accepted idea of discounting the future might be questioned. "In cost-benefit analysis and other applications of welfare economics, economists typically discount future goods for less than present goods. To many philosophers, this seems a reprehensible practice." [Broome 1994, 128]. "How, they ask, can the mere date at which a good occurs make any difference to its value? Discounting seems to these philosophers a device for unjustly promoting our own interests t the expense of our descendants." This would seem the very opposite of our concern for Multi-aspectual Good, though Broome argues for a more nuanced view. Whether or not discounting is meaningful might depend on through which aspect we look. Discounting the future seems meaningful only in the quantitative version of the economic aspect, i.e. ruled by money, and even there only in a situation in which interest is expected to be paid.

We differentiate value from anti-value. Anti-value is when a resource is employed in aspectual dysfunction, i.e. bringing Harm rather than Good. This is discussed in Chapter 7. It goes against the grain of most economists, who conflate them.

However, what we have been talking about thus far is what is often called use-value, the value of a resource in use to enable functioning in some aspect(s) to bring Good. (This extends its definition beyond satisfying human needs or desires, to include the non-human.) There is also exchange-value and labour-value. When a bed is exchanged for a pig, both have exchange value. The labour needed to generate a good or service is its labour-value. The ultimate medium of exchange-value is, of course, money. Aristotle's view of value was restricted to use-value and he never managed to get to grips with exchange-value [Skidesky & Skidelsky 2012, ===]. "Understood in its original sense, as real usefulness rather than mere utility in consumpton, use-value can no more be transformed into exchange-value than colour into length." [p.91] This is partly because they are meaningful in different aspects. We may understand the difference aspectually as follows.

Those are a first attempt at an aspectual understanding, which needs refinement (and research).

5-4 Assessing Value

Summary: Assessing value is a useful tool, but is complex and inherently distorts our understanding of real value, which need to be properly understood.

"God saw that the light was good ... land ... seas ... And God saw that it was good ... plants ... And God saw that it was good ... lights ... And God saw that it was good ... birds ... And God saw that it was good ... animals ... And God saw that it was good ... humans ... God saw all that he had made and it was very good. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array." [Genesis 1,2]

Earlier, we linked part of this passage to the idea of Multi-aspectual Good. Here we have God assessing value ("saw ... good"). In referring to this passage here, we do not derive theological dogma, so much as point up several important constituents of assessing (or measuring) value, some of which are assumed or ignored in much economics assessment.

Money involves assessment of value. Economics analysis and planning involves assessment of value. Lawson 2003 argues that it is the very insistence on methods of "mathematical-deductivist modelling", which both use, that prevent modern mainstream economics from realizing its potential. With our approach above in mind, we pose questions about assessing value in ways that might not prevent it - what, why and how.

5-4.1 Questioning Assessment of Value

Summary: What, why and how of assessing value.

"Economics has become increasingly an arcane branch of mathematics rather than dealing with real economic problems." [Friedman 1999, 137, cited Fullbrook 2009, 5]

1. What kinds of value do we measure or assess? All kinds, and somehow incorporated into economic value, but not just as price. So our assessing should explicitly take all this diversity of kinds into account.

2. Why do we assess value? We must keep to valid purposes and eschew harmful or useless ones. The RLDG briefly discussed some valid purposes of quantitative assessment: giving an overview, judging whether we are improving in any given venture or activity or not, presentation, benchmarking, prioritizing in decision-making. League-table rivalry is not a valid purpose. When comparison is involved, as in prioritizing or judging improvement, it must be done with wisdom; choosing the lowest tender price, or castigating a manager for exceeding budget by a small amount, are often not wisdom. Decisions and policy should not be made on the basis of numbers alone, but only on functioning and its repercussion, which involves qualitative assessment. Should not humility temper such judgments? So, GDP (see below) cannot be used as a proxy for wellbeing at all without both (a) being careful on which denominators to normalize it, (b) taking into account the real value of aspects other than the economic, and (c) recognising harmful as well as good economic activity (Chapter 7).

How do we assess value? This may be either qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative assessment usually takes better account of the diversity of kinds of value, but that God pronounced "good" then "very good" weakly suggests that value may be inherently quantitative, at least as less-and-more even if not precisely measurable. (Christians might notice that the "very good" was about completion, coherence, everything working well together, not just the creation of humans alone; that everything working well together is the glory of, and always pleases, the Creator.)

5-4.2 Fundamental Limits and Dangers of Assessment

Summary: Assessing value is inherently flawed and distorting, because of two main kinds of fundamental limitations.

In both qualitative and quantitative assessment we find two fundamental types of limitation, which makes assessment of value dangerous, because it introduces distortions into all assessment that cannot be escaped, so all assessors, analysts, and those who use assessments, should take the limitations always into account and exercise humility. Statisticians know this, but some politicians and pundits do not.

5-4.2.1 Limitations because of kind of thing being valued

Summary: Different kinds of thing offer different kinds of assessment and challenges to doing so; Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us.

First, we recognise that different kinds of thing require different ways of assessing, and each way has presents its own challenges for assessing value. The differences seem to align with ranges of aspects.

1. Measured value. Physical things can be measured against some yardstick, such as physical size, weight and force. Measurement against a yardstick is challenged by the appropriateness or accuracy of the measuring equipment or techniques, and what to do with outlying measurements.

2. Counted value. Post-physical things can be counted, such as organisms, feelings, concepts, beds, words, friends, etc. Counting things faces two challenges. One is deciding which things to include in the count. When counting beds, for example, should we count things like sofas or benches that could be used as beds? The other is well-known to statisticians in economics: we must be careful which denominators we employ for normalising counts of things. For example GDP of China is thrice that of Japan, but if we divide by population, we find GDP per capita is much higher in Japan than in China. And, even within a country, even GDP per capita is misleading as a proxy for wellbeing; for example financial services grossly inflate GDP in a region. Both occur because counting is not an end in itself but always has some meaningfulness beyond itself.

3. Approximate value. Some things cannot be counted or measured precisely but for which the approximate quantitative concepts of more and less make some sense, such as biodiversity, anxiety, confusion, innovativeness, informativeness, friendship, agreement, and, arguably, the aesthetic quality of music. Assessment of biodiversity is discussed in Chapter 9. Assessment of approximate value is challenged by the complex, multi-factorial nature of most such things or by the need to rely on intuition because of inability to make them explicit.

4. Non-quantifiable value. Some things there are, for which even "more / less" is meaningless but nevertheless exhibit value, such as love or the value of landscape.

The fourth, and often the third, are usually assessed qualitatively; the first two, and sometimes the third, may be assessed quantitatively. This is what Raworth relies on in Doughnut Economics, when giving the norm that the economy must be "more than" social floor and "less than" the ecological ceiling. The Ecosystem Services approach, discussed in Chapter 9, tries to do likewise. Sometimes such values are given precise quantitative values by finding the price that markets will bear (see below) but this is distorted by cultural and communal biases and attitudes.

Such assessments may be valid when the purpose is overview, but is often invalid and misleading when the purpose is decision-making, because such attributions of precise quantities are arbitrary and open to bias. In such cases, a qualitative approach is usually better.

===== should some of the following perhaps go into Chapter 3, and then here we just refer back to it?

5-4.2.2 Limitations because of the activity of assessing.

Summary: The very activity of assessing ensures that our assessments are distorted, and never neutral, so we must be cautious.

The second limitation lies in the nature of the very activity of assessing. Many writers have commented on this, but Dooyeweerd's Transcendental Critique of theoretical thought can provide additional understanding of this that is helpful to us. He discusses the human activity of philosophical and scientific theorizing, and assessment in general exhibits similar characteristics.

Dooyeweerd's original critique is hard to follow; this applies the interpretation of it found in Chapter 5 of Basden [2020].

1. Abstraction. Assessment involves picking out aspects of the situation being assessed and ignoring others; this yields data for our reasoning etc. But such picking-out leads to distorted results because by doing so we ignore other important aspects.

For example, GDP picks out the economic aspect and ignores for example the biotic or ethical (see below). The Human Development Index picks out biotic, lingual and economic aspects (long healthy life, education, Gross National Income). Dasgupta [2021] (Economics of Biodiversity) picks our mainly economic and biotic.

2. Reintegrating what was abstracted. Drawing useful insights from the data involves reasoning according to the rationalities of different aspects. Since these cannot meet others, and there is no over-arching rationality, using them together requires human judgement and responsibility.

Example: GDP involves the economic and quantitative rationalities, as does the HDI, in that biotic and lingual factors are catered for during abstraction. This calls for caution. Dasgupta does employ biotic rationality in addition to economic and quantitative, because in his calculations he must understand ecology.

Value depends on context and context introduces unforeseen kinds of rationality and meaningfulness. As Mark Carney points out, a $1 bag of rice for a poor, hungry man is worth far more in 'use value' than the same rice supplied to a rich, well-fed man. In this case, the value is defined by the biotic aspect, but in general it could be any.

3. Origin of meaning. Making such judgements is undertaken relative to presuppositions about what is ultimately meaningful. In particular, on what basis may we criticise an economics theory or model, and perhaps seek to overcome its weaknesses? On what basis debate this? The answer is to refer to what we deem an origin of meaning, which too often is the opposition of Freedom and Nature presupposed in the Humanist ground-motive, which essentially offers only two fundamental kinds of meaningfulness. The origin of meaning presupposed in this Rethink relies on the pluralistic Creation ground-motive that informed Dooyeweerd.

Examples: GDP has long been criticised for presupposing only economic issues are meaningful. Dasgupta brings in biotic meaningfulness, especially the extreme of extinction. HDI brings in yet other aspects. while wider, presupposes the idea of development as seen in the Global North / affluent cultures (and has been criticised for being "neo-colonial", which is motivated by the opposition of Freedom with Control). We argue that the way to debate all these is by reference to a plurality of aspects as found in Dooyeweerd. Since Dasgupta largely ignores most human aspects, his proposals are incomplete and liable to be watered down by the UK Treasury.

These limitations apply to both qualitative and quantitative assessment. So, assessment (or measurement) is a tool, but it is not neutral. We come to assessment with beliefs, assumptions and presuppositions, expectations and even aspirations for what we wish to find, and most of these are deeply hidden. Moreover, assessment tends to reinforce our beliefs, especially the hidden ones. Tools come with inherent limitations and dangers. All these must be taken into account when employing a the tool, and we must use assessment for valid purposes, aware of our beliefs and its limitations and dangers. Political point-scoring is not a valid purpose.

Example: On 17 November 2022, it was announced in the UK House of Lords that the Paris Stock Exchange had become more valuable than the London Stock Exchange. This is a purely numerical ranking, of very doubtful significance in itself. Yet an opposition Lord used the fact as a weapon with which to attack the government. Ultimately, why does it matter? May we see social and pistic dysfunction in that?

5-4.3 Using Aspects in Assessment

Summary: Aspects may be used to separate out issues, uncover hidden issues and deepen our understanding of issues.

Before either qualitative or quantitative assessment, we need to know what we are assessing - what issues it is meaningful (important or relevant) to assess. Aspects, as modalities of meaningfulness, can help enormously here. For full discussion of aspectual analysis, see Chapter 11 of Basden [2020]; for now, the following steps can be useful, using Mazzucato's values as examples.

This should furnish us with a rich picture of meaningful issues to be assessed either by qualitative or quantitative means. More steps are described in Chapter 7, when we bring Harm as well as Good into account.

5-4.4 Qualitative Assessment of Value

Summary: Dooyeweerd's aspects can help with qualitative assessments.

Qualitative assessment of value takes account of meaningful issues directly, without tranducing them to numerical form. It is useful for all four types of factors above but is especially useful for ordinal kinds of value for which precise quantification is impossible and can only be "more" and "less", and essential for kinds of value for which even this is meaningless. Qualitative assessment is often useful in interdisciplinary situations.

Qualitative assessment separates out (picks out) distinct concepts and identifies how they relate. The above steps are a large component of qualitative analysis. Dooyeweerd's aspects are helpful here because they offer an immediate, intuitive way of finding the meaningfulness of concepts, in asking "In what ways (aspects) is this issue meaningful?" Frequently, when the answer involves one or more aspects, this indicates that several issues have been conflated, which ought to be separated.

Qualitative assessment lends itself nicely to visual expression, most simply as simple lists, but also as box-and-arrow networks. Figure f-make shows an aspectual analysis of vetinerary practice, with aspects, concepts meaningful therein and how they relate to each other.

Multi-aspectual view of vetinerary practice 1360,1350IG "wdy:pix/make-vet.gif" -w4.53 -h4.5 -ra

Figure f-make. Multi-aspectual view of vetinerary practice, obtained by Mike Winfield, using his MAKE (Multi-aspectual Knowledge Elicitation) method.
(Click diagram for full size)

Figure f-tcd is more specific in that its relationships all involve inference, with antecedents to left and consequents to right. It shows the factors important in town centre development, and how an overall assessment thereof may be derived from them.

Multi-aspectual factors in Town Centre Development ?1920,768

Figure f-tcd. Multi-aspectual factors in Town Centre Development, developed by Gareth Jones and Warrington Borough Council; used by permission.
(Click diagram for full size)

Notice the explicit mention of aspects in each of them. In the latter especially, which is an expert system, the right-most concept (TCD: Town Centre Development) is an overall quality figure, it is calculated as quality in each aspect, which themselves are calculated from a plethora of specific issues, many of them meaningful in several aspects. Concepts on the left side are questions that may be put to users when the expert system is run.

Though these networks were completed for their own domains of vetinerary business and land-use planning, it is not difficult to see how similar assessments may be carried out for economic activity and situations.

5-4.5 Quantitative Assessment of Value

Summary: Quantitative assessments are even more limited, but Dooyeweerd's aspects can help.

(Older text; Some of this can be shortened =====)


Quantitative measurement of value has driven economics practice and theory for centuries: money, currency, prices, GSP calculations, etc. Being very convenient to use, it has become almost a surrogate for assessing value which encourages a move away from wisdom. "Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing" is particularly pernicious reduction that is a major concern of Carney [2021].

5-4.5.1 Ways aspects can help

Summary: Dooyeweerd's aspects can help quantitative assessment in at least three ways.

Aspects can help in three ways. 1. They enable us to separate out the kinds of value, so that we assess each in ways appropriate to it. 2. They clarify that quantitative assessment of value is a transduction from the relevant aspect to the quantitative. 3. They can offer more useful and intuitive ways of dis0playing multi-aspectual value.

Aspects however offer a way to lessen some of the problems, but separating out the kinds of value, we can assess each in ways appropriate to the kind and arrive at a quantitative measure for each. This can then be shown visually as a bar-chart, usually two-sided rather like a fir tree, as in Figure f5-asptree.

'Aspect fir tree' showing quantitative measurement of value and anti-value in each aspect 736, 871IG "Work:WWW/cts/economics/./rw/pix/aspect.tree.gif" -w2.45 -h2.9 -c -ra

Figure f5-asptree. Aspect 'fir tree' showing quantitative measurement of value and anti-value in each aspect.

Bars to the right signify value that is meaningful in each aspect, bars to the left, anti-value, i.e. harm. The total value expressed here is not just one quantity but 30 together. Although such a diagram expresses 30 pieces of data, it can give us an overview at a glance of where (in which aspects) the main value and anti-value occurs. It is not so much the length of each bar that is important, as the overall pattern.

The challenge is, of course, "By what mechanism or method do we calculate a number for each aspectual kind of value?" This is the transduction from that aspect to the quantitative, sometimes involving counting, sometimes measurement against a yardstick, sometimes both or other methods such as counting and adding surveys using likert scales. This requires research. Our methods could build on existing experience of calculating happiness, wellbeing, environmental value, etc. even though existing methods are not perfect.

5-4.5.2 Indices

Summary: Many quantitative indices: GDP, HDI, GPI, etc. All are limited and some work against others.

Governments like to use quantitative indices to show how they are getting on. The best-known one is GDP, but there are many others, which measure different things:

Many call for an index to replace GDP; we discuss GDP problems below. But which of these could replace GDP? All of them have problems.

First, there are problems common to all indicators being a quantitative aggregated (total) number. The limitations of being quantitative are discussed earlier. The problem of being aggregated is that when we add two numbers together information is lost. (7 could be 3+4, 4+3, 2+5, 1+6, 2+2+3, etc. but we cannot tell which.) And, in most indices even the components that are added are already aggregated figures.

Another problem is that most of them are additions of money-amounts, which of course might not adequately express real value.

There is the problem of how the data is obtained. Some data is from money-flows, some from taxes, some from surveys of how people feel and whether they feel well-off or not. Most the the affluent countries are well-off but believe they are not, because they compare themselves almost always with people more well-off than they are. (We see yet again the impact of our pistic functioning, what we believe, our mindset.)

There are also problems arising from their provenance. By and large (as RLDG participants pointed out [ze26]), while GDP is the main index used in wealthy, developed countries, the other indices have mostly emerged within less-developed countries, some to try to show progress towards development, some to give importance not qualities not considered in affluent nations. It is unlikely that affluent countries would switch to one of the others.

Perhaps a more fundamental problem is that the things that are counted or measured for some of the indices are meaningful as measures only in some types of nation and not others; for example child mortality before age 5 is less relevant in affluent nations. The key is meaning: what is meaningful? What we need, for common indicator to be agreed and used by all countries, is for it to express what is meaningful to all kinds of countries. Dooyeweerd's aspects fill that need. In addition, as one RLDG participant pointed out, aspects are better because they offer something more general, which can apply in principle to all nations. With aspects we can probe such measures to find out precisely what is meaningful in them, why they are seen as important.

Can we just take some kind of average or total of all indices? No, because there is disharmony among the indices. Many of those emerging from developing nations follow each other, but most of the wellbeing indices correlate negatively with ecological footprint, i.e. the better we are in these indices, the worse the damage to the planet and ecology [Beyond Growth 2023, page 94]. And perhaps vice versa.

What we need is an index that increases with every kind of Good, rather than decreasing with some. An indicator expresses a statement of intent, a wish to intervene to move a (national) situation from A to B, where B is an improvement. The desired improvements expressed by GDP is meaningful in the economic aspect, but most of the others are meaningful in other aspects, the main aspects of each being:

This spread of aspects covered, and noting that some aspects are missing, implies is that we seek a fully multi-aspectual indicator. In Chapter 7, we suggest what this might look like. It measures Good, separately from Harm, in each aspect, and gives a quantitative value to each. In addition, it might even be built into GDP.

5-4.5.3 Price

Summary: What exactly is wrong and right with price as a measure of value?

With Dooyeweerd we might understand prices and pricing more deeply. As all know, price does not truly reflect value, but can be a useful indicator under some conditions. Price is a quantitative assessment of value agreed for exchange and usually agreed across a whole market - thus containing both quantitative and social components.

In the UK, people spend only 8% of their income on food. "Surely food is much more important than that, and we should be spending more of our income on it? Should not food prices go up?" That is a comment on how we value things. We might not agree with it, but it shows a different way of thinking, which we need to take seriously,

Ultimately, price is a result of multi-aspectual human functioning, much of which might be dysfunctioning. Ostensibly, the price of a delivered good is the sum of the prices of its raw materials, labour, storage, delivery, etc. (which brings in the physical, formative, spatial, kinematic aspects). That is Economics 101. But then we bring other factors in. Is it a just price, where each component's price is appropriate and reasonable (good juridical functioning), an unjust price, where some parties are oppressed or cheated, not excluding the natural world and future generations (juridical dysfunction), a greed price, where the seller is trying to make too much profit (ethical dysfunction), pricing motivated by fear, where sellers increase the price in order to protect themselves (pistic and ethical dysfunction), and so on. Even in an apparent just price, some of its components could be unjust or greed prices.

Market pricing or valuation, the price that people are willing to pay, might however have some validity for the following reasons. Market pricing is an amalgamated price that includes not only explicit calculations of the kind above, but also some tacit or intuitive valuing in many aspects. People tacitly believe something is worthwhile, or not (pistic functioning), want and love it, or not (ethical functioning), have some sense of responsibility, or not (juridical), see it as aesthetically desirable, or not, are thinking of their social context, have been informed (lingual) about it, or not, want to achieve something in purchasing it (formative), and so on [=== need refs about the psychology of pricing and purchasing]. All these contribute to the price people are willing to pay [===]. In this way, market prices can be worth taking into account when trying to assess value.

But this should be done with caution because there are two major problems with market valuation. One is that it is tacit, pre-theoretical, and we cannot see clearly what determines the price and cannot properly examine, discuss or judge it. The other is that it is often far too influenced by society's current fashions, idols, selfishness and greed, i.e. dysfunction in the aesthetic, pistic and ethical aspects. Market value often excludes the value of things that happen not to be fashionable at the time or in the community. Market value can also be fickle, as fashions change, which do so with increasing rapidity because of social media. Is not the "willing to pay" of today and the recent past, to a large measure, dictated by our willingness to trash three Earths [Note: Ecol. Footprint] for the sake of the selfish lifestyle of the affluent?

Therefore, though market price contains some useful insight, it should be treated with great caution and critique. Maybe one way to ameliorate this is to understand, at every time and in every social context, what people over-value and under-value and modify market value by decreasing the effect of the former and increasing that of the latter.

5-4.6 Value in the Specialised Economy: Labour and Use; Productivity and Capital

Summary: Not sure yet what to say here, or even whether it is needed. Review our discussions to see.

[Note: Much of this is tentative, still being thought out, rife with mistaken ideas, not yet discussed in the RLDG, and in need of critical refinement.]

Conventional economics recognises two kinds of value, use-value and labour-value. Our notion of value so far has referred to use-value: direct contribution to Multi-aspectual Good of some human functioning. However, in most economies today, some human functioning is devoted to specialised labour that generates goods and services for use by others ("consumers") and capital accumulates. For example, some are skilled in making furniture, which the rest of us accumulate and use in life.

Indeed, many take this so much for granted that they presuppose this as the whole economy, and too often treat unspecialised economies, where people make their own goods for their own use, as in subsistence farming, as inferior or 'backward'. Yet there is no fundamental reason why it should be do denigrated; specialization is not normative, not something that 'ought' to occur. [Note: Specialised]. We do not presuppose that specialisation is a norm, but merely a fact, and try to understand it - and, as a result, can allow subsistence farming to regain the dignity it deserves, and can properly account for unpaid activity (see later). Much rural living is of this kind and should not be so readily overlooked as it is now in economics practice and theory.

So we ask, What is the value of labour? Of goods, services? How do we account for it? What is it that gives capital its value?

Our overall answer is that the value of labour, capital, goods and services lies primarily in their indirect contribution to Multi-aspectual Good, and that this is potential value that is only actualized when people use the goods, services or capital produced by labour in their functioning that contributes to Multi-aspectual Good. This is partly expressed in the conventional distinction between labour-value and use-value.

But this idea needs more detail.

5-4.6.1 Value of Capital

Summary: Capital gains its value from its potential to enable people to contribute to Multi-aspectual Good.

The value of capital is indirect, lying not in itself but in its potential to be used in human functioning that contributes to Multi-aspectual Good (and not Harm). That is its potential value, and it is actualized when it is actually used thus.

This can apply not only to economic capital (resources and money) but also those analogies, of social capital, environmental capital and ethical capital. The same conceptual idea can apply equally to all kinds, treating each as limited. e.g. social capital is primarily of social aspect but also includes ethical aspect of goodwill.

===== maybe we need to explain that a bit more.

5-4.6.2 Value of Labour

Summary: The value of labour is of two types, both of which are important. The main one being indirect, in that labour produces goods and services that others use in functioning that contributes to Multi-aspectual Good. Labour also contributes directly from its own multi-aspectual functioning.

The value of labour is more complicated. The main value of labour and capital are indirect and potential, located in the goods and services that others employ in their functioning that contributes to Multi-aspectual Good. This may be depicted as in Figure f-luog.

Labour and Use contributing to Multi-aspectual Good 1808,600IG "Work:WWW/cts/economics/./rw/pix/f-luog.gif" -w4.52 -h1.5 -ra

Figure f-luog. Labour and Use contributing to Multi-aspectual Good.
(Click of picture for full size)

Materials can be raw, recycled or goods and services produced by labour, such as wooden planks produced for building and furniture-making that, being used, can contribute to Multi-aspectual Good. (Dooyeweerd called these "semi-manufctured products" and Adam Smith used the example of pins that help people sew clothes.) Might infrastructure also be viewed thus? This is represented by the arrow cycling back from goods/services to materials.

The arrow from labour to Multi-aspectual Good expresses a direct contribution that labour can also make to Multi-aspectual Good. This is because labour itself is multi-aspectual human functioning that itself can contribute directly; it may be treated like use-value. An obvious example of this is that the labourer is paid, which allows them to obtain food to keep themselves alive (biotic good). A less-obvious but by no means less-important example are the pleasure and self-esteem that workers get from doing a good, skilled piece of work contributes to Multi-aspectual Good (good that are meaningful in the formative and pistic aspects) [Note: Marxist view]. (x From a Christian perspective we might add that some treat their work as worship, or a space of time in which they can serve others, two more contributions.)

Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us Understanding this direct contribution of labour to Multi-aspectual Good, as in column 2 of Table t-labv, which shows examples of contribution in each aspect (read through it at this point).

Table t-labv. Some direct contributions that labour can make to Multi-aspectual Good, or Harm (selected aspects).
(Click of picture for full size)

Direct contributions that labour can make to Multi-aspectual Good, or Harm.  1328,1200IG "Work:WWW/cts/economics/./rw/pix/t-labv.gif" -w4.43 -h4 -ra

It is a mistake of much economics to either ignore one or the other or to conflate them, as Marx mostly did. They must be considered distinctly yet linked. (Another mistake that both make, discussed in Chapter 7, is to assume that either is only Good; we must take Harm (anti-value) into account too, which detracts from Multi-aspectual Good. Example: Tobacco production does indirect Harm, but some direct Good in keeping its workers alive - though that is too often an used as an excuse and the workers could remain alive by other means. Example: Pollution from production is a direct biotic Harm, as are the climate change emissions from too much flying to business meetings. This understanding offers a systematic clarity to discussions about issues like "Xxx sector needs to be protected in order to generate jobs". This will be discussed more in Chapter 6 on functioning and Chapter 7 on Good, Harmful and Useless economic activity.

Some in the RLDG believe that, given that currently there is too little recognition of Harm, the balance should be tipped away from Harmful sectors like tobacco and fossil fuels, despite some direct good that their labour might bring about. Especially since, as argued in Chapter 4, economics fundamentally recognises responsibility for the future.

Wages or salaries express three things. One can be that indirect contribution to Multi-aspectual Good; so, as Ricardo pointed out, wages follow the price of food (biotic survival as Good). One is the just rewards for employees in exchange for them devoting their time to the work (juridical due as Good), which concerned Marx and also many benevolent capitalists of the 1800s. One is the profits that employers want to make, which reduces wages (usually selfishness, a dysfunction in the ethical aspect, a detraction from Multi-aspectual Good). But from an economic perspective, is it not ridiculous that we put a high price on one resources that is almost unlimited, human labour, and a low price on resources like Cobolt or biodiverity, which are limited. The level of wages is normed by the juridical aspect, not the economic.

5-5. Applying The Above Ideas

Summary: Dealing with a few known issues can indicate how the above ideas can bring fresh insight.

We will now apply that aspectual view of value directed towards Multi-aspectual Good to some issues in conventional or recent economics, in order to demonstrate how it might throw light thereon.

5-5.1 Valuing Externalities

Summary: Instead of labelling impact of economic activity on other spheres of life anonymously as "externalities", and considering their value only as they impact the economy, we value them directly.

[section done]

How do we value so-called externalities? This was extensively discussed in the RLDG. Ignoring externalities is deeply problematic. It means that both the harm done by economic activity and the potential good are alike ignored in accounting, analysis, planning and policy-making. Many are concerned that things like climate change or increase in mental stress resulting from economic activity are ignored. This is a concern that motivates the SNA 2025 exercise, which is trying to bring wellbeing and sustainability, digitalization and globalisation into systems of national accounting.

The usual way is to calculate their impact on the economy as a monetary measure, but, as Chapter 4 emphasises, we need to take them more fully into account and assess their contribution to Multi-aspectual Good. We can value them according to the aspect(s) that make them meaningful, to value directly their functioning in these and other aspects, rather than reducing them to mere economic value.

This gives a way to bring in multiple kinds of externalities, insofar as they can be defined as (meaningful by) extra-economic aspects. That all aspects are equally meaningful and must all be considered in principle, moves so-called externalities into the very centre of economic activity.

5-5.1.1 Example: Assessing Raworth's Social Floor

The idea of aspects allows finer-grain analysis too. For example, the components of Kate Raworth's "social foundation" may be understood in the following way:

To do full justice to Raworth's ideas requires more careful analysis, but this indicative analysis, based on immediate intuition, reveals how rich each of components are, meaningful in several aspects, and demonstrates a method to be used. Though full analysis might be challenging, because it involves taking account of myriad impacts in multiple aspects, it is not impossible. We already do something like this to fix market prices of various commodities, especially minerals. As discussed above, market pricing can sometimes express something of the value we find in various aspects, even though in a limited and biased manner. Might machine learning AI along with data mining be used in doing this?

Research project: Explore the benefits, limitations and dangers of using data mining and AI to assess values in all aspects, especially of externalities.

Using aspects can begin to answer the question of why each component was included. Notice how most elements are meaningful in more than one aspect, which is often the case [Note: Cipations]. In fact, for a full understanding, each one is meaningful in all aspects, for their operation but the ones mentioned are the main ones.

Counting the number of times each aspect appears there yields an initial overview of what is meaningful to Raworth as she constructed her model: what happened to interest her.

(That is a qualitative aspectual analysis, with small quantitative piece at the end. A more fully quantitative approach is examplified in 7-4.3 on Supply and Use Tables, Figure 7f-sut, which also separates Harm from Good.)

This (insofar as it does justice to the model) could be taken as the basis of a critical assessment, pointing out imbalances (possible over-reference to social, juridical, formative and biotic) and missing aspects (ethical, spatial, kinematic) - thus perhaps indicating her biases. But even such a brief analysis can be useful to stimulate discussion and possible refinement of the model. Why, for example, are certain aspects (social, formative, biotic and juridical) well-represented aspects? And is it good for them to be? Why are some aspects missing or hardly present (pistic, ethical, economic, analytical, and the three mathematical aspects)? Are they simply irrelevant, or have the been overlooked and thus should be added to the model? For example, should pervading attitude of society (selfish or self-giving) be added as an important component of social floor?

5-5.2 The Value in Unpaid Activity

Summary: Unpaid (household) activity has immense value, which should be brought into economics theory and practice. Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us understand its diverse value. To value only paid work brings many problems.

All human functioning has real value, whether paid or unpaid, in that it can contribute towards Multi-aspectual Good. Therefore unpaid activity, such as goes on in households across the Earth, should be brought into the centre of thinking and practising in economics. So should volunteering. So should caring for someone at home. Too many elderly people are put in a home where nothing is expected of them; if we valued unpaid activity that contributes towards Multi-aspectual Good, then would that inspire many elderly to useful activity and greater dignity?

Variously the value of unpaid household activity is estimated to be between 10% and 40% of the total economy, in some economies, it might be 10%, in others, 40%, and the global average seems to be around 25% [=== refs]. Indeed, this might underestimate its value because it omits several classes of unpaid activity, and the ways it is calculated are not perfect (e.g. assuming $15 per hour).

Yet both Adam Smith and Karl Marx deliberately looked away from unpaid activity (maybe for different reasons) and most subsequent economists have followed suit. If we ignore unpaid activity, many problems ensue.

Example: People blocked hospitials in the UK in late 2022 because they needed help and care at home but too little paid care was available. Because family members have to work for money in order to pay for paid care. So they went to hospitals instead. We have assumed that care-needed can only be delivered by paying for it. But in fact, much care can be delivered without money, and is often more effective at that, being driven by love rather than pay or legal requirements.

In the so-called Less-Developed Nations, the proportion of unpaid good activity is much higher. Care is given without demanding, or even thinking about, pay. Even the so-called basics might be obtained without money. One RLDG participant was working in rural Uganda, and was told by a Ugandan,

"We don't need money. We grow our own food and build our own houses. All we need money for is school fees and hospital fees."

But such ideas are completely ignored, and often derided as 'lesser'. At the macroeconomic level, that results in the activity and lifestyle of so-called less-developed nations, in which household activity is much more prevalent, being looked down on. Interestingly, the SNA2025 exercise aims to rectify this. Even in affluent countries, there are problems. After the Pandemic, the UK government tried to encourage the hospitality sector to the detriment of home cooking and fun; one contributes to GDP; the other does not.

So we believe it is important for unpaid activity to be factored right into the centre of all economic theory and practice. In doing this, however, we must be aware of some dangers of doing this, such as that it might give the message that slavery is acceptable; we will find that separating out the issues by aspects can help, in that slavery is an evil in a different aspect. And, of course accountants will need to explore, develop and learn new ways of accounting, but this is made easier by asking "What is the meaningfulness / importance of making this change?" and working from there.

5-5.2.1 Why unpaid activity must be valued

Summary: Unpaid economic activity should be valued because it generates Good (or Harm) that needs to be taken into account, and also because it is often of higher quality than equivalent paid work.

Family love, support and caring are vital to the wellbeing of both society and even economy, yet they are not paid for. The specialised (paid) economy is not mandatory nor normative, nor even the sum total of the economy. It is still perfectly valid for people:

None of this is inherently inferior to being provided by paid-for specialised labour. Indeed, as mentioned also elsewhere, it may be superior because done with care, love and commitment (the importance of attitude).

All these are usually invisible to what many call 'the economy', because they constitute unpaid activity, so they are ignored. In those tasks listed above, labour and use merge. To value use as labour is one way to bring unpaid activity into 'the economy' and is a way to see household activity as productive and to have value. The SNA2025 exercise suggests that it be costed according to market values of the equivalent paid work. This might not be ideal, but it does at least overcome Marx's and Smith's exclusion of unpaid household activity from their definitions of "productive." It might also offer a better understanding of the real size of economies of so-called Less-Developed Nations, in which much of their economic activity is unpaid.

However, doing this does not fully solve the problem, because unpaid activity is often of a higher quality in terms of taking account of multiple aspects, and more beneficial to Multi-aspectual Good, even if seemingly of lower quality from a purely economics perspective or that of paid-for specialisation.

5-5.2.2 How to value unpaid economic activity

Summary: The value of unpaid activity may be understood via Dooyeweerd's aspects, of which each is equally important.

Take the list of unpaid household activity drawn up for the United Nations discussions on redesigning the System of National Accounts, in their Guidance Note on Household Activity. In each, different aspects are primarily responsible for making them valuable, i.e. contributing to Multi-aspectual Good. The value of some is obviously in certain aspects:

The value of others is multi-aspectual:

For the final one, we may suggest three other unpaid household activities that should be considered, by asking ourselves "Which aspects are missing as primary aspects, and how might they manifest themselves in unpaid activity?":

All these have value and should be incorporated into the Economy. What an aspectual approach does is enable us to separate out distinct kinds of value and see where the value really lies.

In fact, each of the unpaid activities above is more complex, and the RLDG carried out a fuller aspectual analysis of them, in RLDG response to SNA 2025. Here, as an example, is a fuller comment on Childcare.

"Unpaid childcare captures the time provided by care givers in the direct care of children." Care has the ethical aspect as its primary, but in the case of children there is usually a strong social aspect of relationship and a biotic aspect too when the children are the offspring of the carers. "This can range from helping with homework [lingual, formative] to feeding [biotic, aesthetic], washing [physical, biotic] or dressing children [aesthetic]."

We might also add: play [aesthetic], maintain justice among siblings [juridical], love [ethical], and affirming their worth [pistic]. The special value these four aspects brings in childcare is to help form the character of the child from an early age and, indirectly, their future potential in economy and society.

It might also be no coincidence that all four are post-economic aspects, so that they impinge on and impact, and should guide and regulate, the economic activity and decisions. Using purely economic rationality and laws on their own misses the importance of these aspects (as the SNA recognises was their error in their 2008 exercise). Whereas casting such issues in purely economic terms might encourage national treasuries and account to adopt them and thereby widen their view somewhat, might it ultimately be self-defeating, because we have not truly taken account of the full reality that the the household, nation, global level and the individual too?

Without recognising the importance offered by all these aspects. unpaid activity becomes undervalued. This is unfair to home-makers, many of whom are women [c.f. Mothers At Home Matter], and especially to so-called Less Developed Nations, where unpaid household activity is a higher proportion than in affluent cultures. It is also unfair to the many unemployed people who use their time productively e.g. in volunteering or caring [Note: Volunteering].

The SNA 2025 exercise proposes to bring in unpaid household activity via the mechanism of market prices. Responsible to bring it into the money-measurement system initially. But we need a more accurate approah. The question that challenges such a multi-aspectual view is "How do we bring all these into economics theory or practice?" There are two parts to an answer to this. One concerns assessment of value, which was discussed above. The other is discussed in Chapter 6, to consider the multi-aspectual functioning that is unpaid activity, examining how each aspectual functioning contributes to Multi-aspectual Good. All such functionings are important (of value) for the wellbeing of both society and economy. explicit recognition of such aspects can be used to draw out issues that are often hidden or remain tangled together.

5-5.4 Productivity

Summary: Productivity is variously (mis)understood, but may be understood via aspectual contribution to Multi-aspectual Good.

How may we understand productivity? Productivity measures measure how much output is obtained compared with the functioning that is labour. Productivity per unit capital or materials used and per unit of labour (person, hour, etc.) may be seen as taking account only of the economic aspect (treating capital, materials and labour purely as resource) and perhaps the formative functioning (e.g. how skilled are the workers). Multifactor productivity takes other aspects into account, such as management style, knowledge or organisational structures. All measures suffer from the problems of quantitative measurement, and mistakes in selecting factors to take into account. For some goods and especially services productivity measures of worthless: what is

The challenge is why productivity wants to be measured. One is to motivate increasing productivity. But this is sometimes meaningless, such in a string quartet playing Mozart [Beaumont/Baumol? ===].

5-5.5 GDP

Summary: Adherence to GDP has caused many problems but it is not GDP itself that is the problem, but how it has been used and the attitude we have to it.

GDP was conceived by Kuznets [1934] as a way to obtain a single overview measure of the "economic welfare" of a nation. It is calculated by totalling all the monetary transactions that occur in a nation.

GDP causes many problems, some of which are briefly outlined by Coyle [2016]. GDP ignores depletion of natural assets, ignores many important issues of wellbeing, does not allow unpaid household activity to be considered of value, and suffers all the problems of trying to quantify values that are non-quantifiable, cannot take digital activity into account, and is difficult to apply globally [SNA2025 2021]. Despite Kuznets warning otherwise ("The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income"), GDP has been (mis)used as a measure of overall wellbeing of a nation, especially by politicians and pundits. To do so presupposes all economic activity contributes to Multi-aspectual Good, and does no harm, something we question in Chapter 7: such misuse of GDP actively encourages growth of Harmful economic activity and even whole Harmful sectors, such as aviation. ===== repeats below, so shorten.

The problems of using GDP have been much discussed (e.g. ...) and sometimes confusingly so. Some criticisms are easily resolved, for instance that GDP is a total for an entire population and hence will always tend to be larger for nations with larger population, so GDP per capita, should often be used instead. Putting such technical problems aside, there are more fundamental kinds of problems.

(In addition to these limitations inherent in GDP itself are problems with how it is seen and used by others, such as politicians, most of whom, in 'Western Democracies', idolise GDP and refer to it for a measure of the quality==== of their nation, and greatly fear being left behind in the GDP race. But here we focus on the inherent limitations.)

However, recognising the valid uses of quantitative measurement, especially for obtaining an overview, something like GDP may always be needed. Various suggestions have been made for what might replace it [Coyle 2016]. For example ===== from AH's email. Dasgupta [2021] and the SNA2025 work both try to address the second problem. Dasgupta used the Ecosystem Services approach, to find measurable value in the ecosphere, to propose how biodiversity could be included in national accounts. The SNA2025 exercise goes further, trying to find ways of including, in national accounts, not only biodiversity, but climate, wellbeing more generally, digitalization and globalization, all of which have not been adequately addressed.

However, we do not altogether reject GDP. Its possible germ of validity is that, insofar as three conditions pertain, GDP might be a proxy for the idea that a society with higher GDP can generally do more, so GDP can be a useful measure if used with care. The three conditions are: (a) that all economic activity included in GDP really does increase Multi-aspectual Good and not Harm, (b) that its diverse values can be measured quantitatively, and (c) that unpaid Good economic activity is included in GDP. None of these are true at present, but Chapter 7 we suggest how to enrich GDP, especially that harmful economic activity subtracts from GDP rather than adding to it.


Inflation is the increase in average prices in a national economy from one date to next; each unit of currency buys fewer goods or services. Conventional views are that inflation should be around 2% per annum in affluent economies and that too low and too high inflation are both bad. There may be some validity in both, But we must dig underneath to expose assumptions and presuppositions. Why, fundamentally, does inflation matter? What does inflation really indicate? What really causes inflation?

===== ghere 19 June 2023 ; use wkp

If we try to understand what causes inflation from the economic aspect alone, then our understanding is limited to the conventional answers of supply-side and demand-side ...

However, ; Too high inflation harms all who rely on prices to measure or indicate value, too low inflation is associated low economic growth. # Is inflation really important? # *** So if prices were artificially low before, when they begin to revert to their proper value, then inflation is bound to become high for a time. Why might prices be rtificially low? Because of mindset and attitude, (a) among people and media who had demanded low prices for themselves (selfish attitude, self-importance mindset), (b) govts gave way to them. (c) govts and bz robbed rest of world and planet. # Conventional role of inflation: need some for econ growth: to get people buying now rather than later. [but does that presuppose that people buy only by price not need, and not to do good? e.g. if zero or -ve inflation, will people starve rather than buy bread today?] # But does that assume unchanged levels of consumption? What if people use less energy. Energy prices might go up, but household expenditure goes down. ====check: does any inflation index take that into account?

5-5.2 The Relationship Between Labour and Capital; Brief Critique of Marx's Ideas


# Value = "what is costs" - Marx reduces value to the economic and quantitative.

# Surplus value - value produced over and above what is required to survive, which accrues to the owners of the means of production. It contains the insight that there are such things as non-essentials and the innate normative thrust of Marx's thought agrees with ours that non-essentials should be seriously questioned and perhaps reduced. But Marx's treatment of this is so over-simplified and puerile that it can do much damage.

# Marx' concern about "..." . No, it is due to juridical and ethical dysfunction impacting on economic functioning. Which are themselves led by pistic dysfunction of idolizing economic growth and measurement by quantitative price.

# Kotz [2007]: "In some presentations of Marxist theory, the appropriation of surplus value appears to be a kind of mechanical, or automatic, process. That is, the correct statement, that the capitalist employs labor-power to create a value greater than the value of that labor-power, is interpreted as an explanation of the emergence and appropriation of surplus value. However, that statement is not an explanation of the underlying relations behind the origin of surplus value but rather is a statement of the result of those underlying relations."

# discuss the relationship between labour and capital, with reference to the literature, e.g. Kotz 2007 or even Biglow 1878, and the apparent conflict between them (Marx etc.) and show how (a) the relationship may be understood in terms of aspects and direct and indirect contribution to Multi-aspectual Good, (b) most conflict arises from other dysfunction in other aspects impacting the economic.

# To add: "Willing to pay" is dictated by prevailing beliefs and pervading attitudes, which currently may be described as "affluence, arrogance, unconcern". Marx's alternative, based on the value of labour, equitably spread to all, is little better, because in practice the value of labour is likewise dictated by "[aspiratinos to] affluence, arrogance and unconcern" even if they take different shapes.

5-6 Conclusions


# It may have been noticed that we spoke often in terms of human functioning, and of harm as well as good. In order to understand these adequately, they are discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.

Notes and References


Note on Real Values: Is This Too Harsh? This list is complied from the attitudes rife among people, politicians and media in the affluent West and its actions in and towards the rest of the world. While many the the West hold the opposite of these negative values, especially in its economics dealing. The list reflects the balance between concern and unconcern, generosity and greed, humility and arrogance, collectivism and individualism, selfless cooperation and rivalry, mercy and legalism, genuineness and hypocrisy or hidden agendas (e.g. on climate change), selfless sacrifice and self-centredness, what affluent societies devote much attention, effort and resources to in art, politics and economics. What saves the affluent West from utter condemnation (from a Christian perspective, by God) is that just occasionally the Good shines through.


Broome J. 194. Discounting the future. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 23(2), 128-56.

Debreu G. 1959. A Theory of Value.

Coyle D. 2016. GDP in the dock. Nature, 534, 23 June 2016, 472-4. [r5-val]

Lawson T. 2003. Reorienting Economics. Routledge

Date Created: 27 December 2022 from xnr2. Last updated: 27 December 2022 new intro, bit re. val theory. 28 December 2022 market pricing indicating multi-aspectual value. 2 January 2023 +ve Capitalism. 5 January 2023 5.1 what we need. 10 January 2023 gdp. 16 January 2023 Why not "consumption". 17 January 2023 econ val expressing val. 25 January 2023 GDPP proxy. 3 February 2023 tiny change. 8 February 2023 2 notes on Econ Value. 9 February 2023 make decns on fning not numbers. 13 February 2023 rw Gunton; Market value. 14 February 2023 quantitative rw. 2 March 2023 summary. 8 March 2023 human vals actual. 11 March 2023 Better intro to Unpaid. 21 April 2023 Bhutan. 3 May 2023 left behind in GDP. 15 May 2023 Readying to print. 18 May 2023 wage. 19 May 2023 edits. 20 May 2023 future, discounting; more editing. 27 May 2023 labour ed. 29 May 2023 section 'applying'; value of capital; lab-cap. 29 May 2023 edits. 30 May 2023 edits to end; summaries. 5 June 2023 new ch smy. 16 June 2023 Debreu. 17 June 2023 upd wk made more value-oriented; Poor widow. 19 June 2023 inflation to here; unpaid. 17 August 2023 steps aspectual anal. 16 October 2023 quote. 8 November 2023 challenge of calc. aspectual value. 9 November 2023 5-. 28 November 2023 GDP lacks info. 29 November 2023 Redid 5-4.4 quantitative; indices. 30 November 2023 indicators. 2 December 2023 rw indices. 8 December 2023 probs of valuing unpaid. 30 December 2023 food prices, value of elderly. 24 January 2024 kentner. 21 February 2024 use-, exchange- etc. value. 22 February 2024 more re -vals. 27 February 2024 edit 5-5.1, adding heading re assess raworth. 11 March 2024 corrections.