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What makes something valuable?

 
 
JPhil
 
Reply Sat 11 Jun, 2011 12:08 am
What reason do you think, why somethings are valuable? For example, gold. Why is gold so valuable? If its because it looks good, then are things that look good valuable? Then why must things that look good be valuable? Or is it because its strong. Then we can say things that are strong are valuable. But why? Bricks are strong, trees are strong, but we aren't trading them for other things we find valuable. So what do you think?
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 14,857 • Replies: 24
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roger
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Jun, 2011 01:06 am
@JPhil,
You need to convince people that not only are bricks valuable, they will become more valuable with the passage of time. Also, convince them that if they don't pay attention, you will have more than your fair share of bricks and they will have less.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Sat 11 Jun, 2011 12:54 pm
@JPhil,
The most general reason something is valuable is that it is valued--for whatever reason, simple as that. The price that the marketplace puts on it is only one of a wide range of possible reasons.
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Jun, 2011 04:28 pm
@JPhil,
Things that we consider valuable generally possess unique properties, such as gold or diamonds.
The actual value of such items is then determined by supply and demand.
In the case of some such items, diamonds, the supply is manipulated against the demand to increase the value.

I think you will find that unique properties hold true with anything we find more valuable than another.
However, supply and demand plays an equal role in this value system.

Quote:
Bricks are strong, trees are strong, but we aren't trading them for other things we find valuable.


This is false, we are in fact, trading bricks and trees for other things we find valuable, it's called commerce.
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 10:03 pm
@wayne,
What I mean is that we are not directly trading bricks and trees, we are trading through money. Even more, if so directly, as I asked, what makes it so valuable? Is it really its use? Or take gold, that is not used for building or anything besides monetary uses. What makes it so valuable for trading?
0 Replies
 
existential potential
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2011 06:25 am
@JPhil,
I thought that gold is valuable because its rare...?
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 06:00 am
@existential potential,
So something that is rare must be a valuable thing. Our money is based off the value of gold, so then is our money valuable because its rare as well? Even more, why must rarity be valued? I think all value come from "want." We value things because of the "pure want" if the thing.
Old Goat
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 06:04 am
Supply and demand.

0 Replies
 
Old Goat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 06:07 am
@JPhil,
"I think all value come from "want." We value things because of the "pure want" if the thing. "

The most succesful Sales people know the art of turning a "want" into a "need", as people will pay even more if they think they "need" a certain commodity, as opposed to just wanting it.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 06:12 am
I doubt you'll be able to find a definition of value that applies to every single thing anyone has ever found valuable.
Dorotea Assenova
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 06:34 am
@JPhil,
Il prezioso è ciò che lo rendiamo noi prezioso. Se per te l’oro è prezioso questo sarà prezioso!
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 07:07 am
@JPhil,
JPhil wrote:

So something that is rare must be a valuable thing. Our money is based off the value of gold, so then is our money valuable because its rare as well? Even more, why must rarity be valued? I think all value come from "want." We value things because of the "pure want" if the thing.


My 2 cents....

It had been agreed on by many societies long ago that gold would be the standard that would back whatever we chose to use as money. Inherently it has no value, too soft to use in its pure form, can't eat it etc.
However, when mixed with other metal, coins were able to be made.

Prior to money, transactions were done by straight trade. I need a chicken, you need a blanket. Fine, expect I might say my blanket is worth more, because I need a chicken to eat tonight, immediately use, and my blanket would be useful to you for a long time.
You could say you'll give me 3 chickens, and I could keep the others for eggs.
That might make the deal, but, I might tell you I don't want to raise chickens, just eat one when I want to.
Having the gold coins solved the problem, because we'd be able to trade exactly what different items were worth, knowing others were now accepting these in trade. Made a lot more sense than walking around with a bunch of chickens, goats, pots and other items, trying to find someone who needed them, and had what we needed.

Of course, paper replaced gold, and more recently, plastic.

All of these things have worth, because we have all agreed they have worth. In the marketplace, we can agree to various items worth down to the smallest percentage.
Of course, we know this as supply and demand. However, I think that's how the whole thing came about, more or less.

Why did we choose gold? Who knows, and really, who cares? Could have very well been some other item that we could trade more conveniently than an old goat.

Of course individuals have different values for things. Some would give all their money, or trade a lot of their belongings, for a diamond. Happens every minute of the day when men shell out money for engagement rings.

I never had an engagement ring, and made it clear I wouldn't accept one because I personally hold no value for diamonds. The only reason I'd accept a diamond from someone is if I were able to immediately trade it for something I do value.

Today, money in the U.S. is not even backed by gold. It's fiat money. It's just been agreed upon what money is worth. That changes every day.
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 10:46 pm
@Shapeless,
Well of course. But there nothing wrong with asking for an opinion. Smile
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 10:58 pm
@chai2,
Interesting. I've actually come to that conclusion as well, that diamonds don't have much worth. I have come to a point where the most valuable thing to me is knowledge. It's strange really, as I was growing up I never really had much value for money, but truly the materials I get with the money, but I guess everyone does this. But now that you brought it up, I guess the value of money comes from the need or from our needs. Which is, we only value money because of what we can get from it. But even more, unlike before where men traded and bargained for what was valuable, today, what is valuable, "money," is set as a standard and our values must conform to this standard.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 11:14 pm
Gold is actually pretty unique. It's scarce, has a low boiling point, is malleable, doesn't rust, stays shiny and can be used in many applications.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2011 08:21 am
@JPhil,
Quote:
Well of course. But there nothing wrong with asking for an opinion.


I mention it only because there seems to be a tendency (prevalent in much philosophy, I believe) to take a single instance of something and immediately extrapolate it into a generalized definition. The rarity of gold was mentioned, for example, and the immediate response was to turn the example into a general rule (even if only hypothetically) about rarity and value:

JPhil wrote:
So something that is rare must be a valuable thing. Our money is based off the value of gold, so then is our money valuable because its rare as well? Even more, why must rarity be valued?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jun, 2011 09:07 am
By "value" we seem stuck on the notion of MARKET value. There's that, obviously, but I prefer the notion of valuing something for its perceived "intrinsic" worth. For example, I like to say that Life, The Cosmos, Ultimate Reality, etc. are "divine", not for something objective about them but for the value I place on them. Value can be either personal, like that, or social as in the marketplace.
Personal value: you can't buy love.
Marketplace value: you can buy sex.
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2011 08:58 pm
@JLNobody,
Then what is this thing that cannot be bought but still have value? Why not the word important to describe how personal it is?
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2011 09:32 pm
@JPhil,
Try "priceless"
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2011 09:36 pm
@JPhil,
Quote:
For example, gold. Why is gold so valuable?


Force of habit mostly, and the fact that nations based money on it until fairly recently. Nonetheless the gold standard caused gigantic grief all during the 18'th and 19'th centuries and particularly an inflexible basis of money like that combined with fractional reserve banking caused cycles of expansion and ruinous collapse and people finally gave up on it.

The value of gold is based almost entirely on psychiatry and psychology and not on economics or physics and the properties which once made it desirable for money also make it easy to steal and melt down so that I do not see the point of ordinary people wanting to own it, there are better hedges against inflation.

The best source on the internet for the history and theory of money is:

http://www.webofdebt.com

The idea of gold being valuable arose in biblical times when it was used for electrostatic contrivances such as the ark of the covenant which was basically a primitive capacitor. At present there are much cheaper things to make connectors out of and given that 80% of gold currently being mined goes into rings and bracelets, there are also much cheaper metals to make rings and bracelets out of.

Nobody uses gold for tooth fillings any more and as far as I can tell there is only one application for which gold would work better than any other metal: Half again denser than lead, soft, and totally inert, gold would be the most perfect metal possible for waterfowl shot. You could kill ducks and geese all day long with 2.75" shells and #7 shot or at most #6.
 

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