Re-reading Carl Menger’s Grundsätze. A Book That “Cries Out To Be Surpassed”

CSWP 52 (March 2022)

Author Heinz D. Kurz

Keywords Classical economics; Essentialism; German Use Value School; Imputation problem; In-come distribution; Marginalism; Menger, Carl; Production; Rau, Karl Heinrich; Ricardo, David; Smith, Adam; Subjectivism; Successivism; Value.

JEL A12; B12; B13; B31; D11; D24; D33; D42; D46; D51; D80; N00; O10.

The paper reconsiders Menger’s Grundsätze (1871). It recalls, first, that the theory of marginal utility was developed by representatives of the so-called “German Use Value School”; secondly, that Menger’s criticism of the theories of value and distribution of the classical economists is based on severe misunderstandings; third, that his alternative construction is marred with difficulties spotted by Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser; fourth, that relative prices reflect inter alia the substances that “transmigrate” into commodities in the course of production. The Grundsätze are nevertheless a “great” work, because it invites to correct what is problematic in it and develop what is sound.

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