The science of economics would be impossible if it recognized as values only those values that are judiciously appraised.
After explaining his point of view on the value of diamonds, Frédéric Bastiat follows with a series of examples showing how, according to him, value is in the associated service.
I chose today’s quote due to the regular misunderstanding it creates on the part of the public when they are confronted to some economic phenomena. What is said here is that the world is full of mistakes but that this is not a good reason do dismiss economic science when it tries and explain it. The scientific approach requires assumptions and it is not in looking at exceptions that a theory can be elaborated. In the present case, he recognises that fraud exists (interestingly, he hints at indulgences sold by the catholic church despite himself being a catholic) and that, if it is to be fought against, it is not sufficient to expose the distortions it creates to conclude that economic theory is not relevant.
Nowadays, some price phenomena are regularly reported by the public as particularly amoral to the extent that they would be immoral. However, it is often in situations where, by ignorance, the public is attempting to kill the messenger instead of understanding the underlying economic truth.
Other quotes from On Value:
Introduction – Part 1 of 10 – Part 2 of 10 – Part 3 of 10 – Part 4 of 10 – Part 5 of 10 – Part 6 of 10 – Part 7 of 10 – Part 8 of 10 – Part 9 of 10 – Part 10 of 10 – Conclusion – Epilogue