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Volume 54 Issue 6
November 2022
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Citation: Jiming CAI, Yueyang CAO and Leyi LIU. On Labour-Commanded and Labour-Embodied in Value Determination and Their Relation[J]. Academic Monthly, 2022, 54(6): 61-72. shu

On Labour-Commanded and Labour-Embodied in Value Determination and Their Relation

  • In the history of economic thought, it is generally believed that Adam Smith has a dual or plural theory of value. On the one hand, he proposed a single-element theory of value that labor-commanded determines value; on the other hand, he pointed out that labor-embodied and three types of income co-determine value which composite as a multi-element theory of value. Therefore, whether labour-commanded or labor-embodied determines value becomes a focus of long-standing debate among economists. To have a comprehensive and accurate understanding of Smith’s labor-commanded theory and labor-embodied theory, this paper reviews and analyzes the related opinions and misunderstandings in the history of economic thought. Then, in the framework of the general theory of value, this paper further discusses the different roles of Smith’s labor-commanded and labor-embodied in value determination and value measurement. This paper concludes that from an individual micro point of view, the ratio of labor-commanded to labor-embodied is equal to the ratio of comprehensive productivity of the department; from an aggregative macro perspective, total value = total amount of labor-commanded = total amount of labor-embodied; and the proposition that total value equals to the total labor valid as the measurement of value, it cannot prove that value is created by labor alone.
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        On Labour-Commanded and Labour-Embodied in Value Determination and Their Relation

        Abstract: In the history of economic thought, it is generally believed that Adam Smith has a dual or plural theory of value. On the one hand, he proposed a single-element theory of value that labor-commanded determines value; on the other hand, he pointed out that labor-embodied and three types of income co-determine value which composite as a multi-element theory of value. Therefore, whether labour-commanded or labor-embodied determines value becomes a focus of long-standing debate among economists. To have a comprehensive and accurate understanding of Smith’s labor-commanded theory and labor-embodied theory, this paper reviews and analyzes the related opinions and misunderstandings in the history of economic thought. Then, in the framework of the general theory of value, this paper further discusses the different roles of Smith’s labor-commanded and labor-embodied in value determination and value measurement. This paper concludes that from an individual micro point of view, the ratio of labor-commanded to labor-embodied is equal to the ratio of comprehensive productivity of the department; from an aggregative macro perspective, total value = total amount of labor-commanded = total amount of labor-embodied; and the proposition that total value equals to the total labor valid as the measurement of value, it cannot prove that value is created by labor alone.

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