When Rand discusses the determination of value in a free market, she uses the term "socially objective value," as against the notion that value is subjective. Now, I don't fully comprehend the difference. She uses these words:
“(...) their socially objective value, i.e., the sum of the individual judgments of all the men involved in trade at a given time, the sum of what they valued, each in the context of his own life.” Excerpt from: CUI
Especially from my formation in economics, I learned to call that "subjective." So, what's be the difference between "socially objective value" and "subjective value" in a free market?
Whether an aggregate or sum of individual judgments is subjective or objective (or intrinsic) depends on whether the individual judgments themselves are subjective or objective (or intrinsic). Objectivism points out that a free market rewards objectivity and penalizes non-objectivity:
The free market represents the social application of an objective theory of values.... Since values are determined by the nature of reality, it is reality that serves as men's ultimate arbiter: if a man's judgment is right, the rewards are his; if it is wrong, he is his only victim. [...]
(From CUI Chap. 1, pp. 24-25 in the Signet paperback edition. This same article contains the excerpt quoted in the question.) If the dominant trend of the individual judgments is overwhelmingly objective, as it very likely will be in a free market (over time), then the resulting sum or aggregate of those judgments can be described as "socially objective," which is an expression of objective values. Objective value judgments do not cease to be objective merely because they are summed up or aggregated across many individual valuers. What matters is the type of valuing (intrinsic, subjective or objective) performed by the individuals.
Conventional philosophical and/or economic views of values may regard it as impossible for value judgments ever to be objective. In fact, some observers (philosophers, especially) may deny that any objectivity at all is possible to man. Objectivism disputes and rejects such views, although Objectivism may very well be revolutionary in doing so. Objectivism holds that (a) objectivity is possible to man, and (b) objectivity can be applied to values. And again, Objectivism observes that free markets strongly encourage and express objective valuing.
answered Aug 29 '13 at 22:13
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