The History of Economic Thought
Online ISSN : 1884-7358
Print ISSN : 1880-3164
ISSN-L : 1880-3164
The Roles of A. R. J. Turgot and J.-J.-L. Graslin in the Subjective Theory of Value in the Late 18th Century
Eiko Yamamoto
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2016 Volume 58 Issue 1 Pages 21-48


Turgot is known not only as a physiocrat, but also as the author of Valeurs et Monnaies (c1769?), in which he discusses the subjective theory of value: this work earned him a pre-eminent position in the field. Prior to Turgotʼs discussion, Graslin presented more detailed accounts of the subjective theory of value, providing logical arguments against physiocracy. In his Essai Analitique sur la Richesse et sur lʼImpôt (1767), Graslin refuted physiocratic doctrines, especially the concepts of net product and productive/non-productive classes. While initially critical of Graslinʼs assertations, Turgot later adopted his views in Valeurs et Monnaies. Although Turgot contributed to the field of economics, he provided only an intro-duction to marginal utility, equivalent to Galianiʼs signs in Della Moneta (1751), because Turgot could not totally abandon physiocratic concepts. However, Graslin proposed that all economic activities and national policies should be considered in the context of the subjec-tive theory of value. More fundamentally, he assumed that human capacity for awareness of desires and needs has always been constant and showed that an increase in the amount of ob-jects would cause a decrease in their value. Preceding studies consider that Graslin expressed only average value and that he did not show the basis of marginal utility. Although, in his de-scriptions of value, there were possibilities to mislead, it is quite possible to interpret him a forerunner of the marginal utility theory and thus distinguish him from other authors of his era. JEL classification numbers: B 11, B31.

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