Separate Individuals

I mentioned in my previous post that only separate individuals can determine value. In this post I would simply like to add emphasis to that point. It will take on critical importance as we study other aspects of economic systems.

Not shared value

We frequently hear people speak of shared value (or values). In fact, individuals cannot share values with other people. Each individual has only his own sense of value.

We frequently see situations in which evidence tells us that people actually do share value. Instead of shared value I would prefer to use the term congruent value. When a group of individuals have sufficiently compatible values, those people can act in concert—as if they shared a value.

Not group value

The mistaken concept of “group value” relates very closely to “shared value.” But, no such thing as collective (or group) values exists.

When groups of people act in as a unit it simply demonstrates that they have achieved a consensus for action based on their individual value.

Not by voting

Voting, in no way, creates a collective value. Voting simply reflects a way of either achieving a consensus, or imposing majority will. In such situations, only individuals cast votes based on individual value.

Not Markets

Although we frequently hear terms like market value, or the market values, the source of value remains the individual. This applies to all levels of the market: consumer level, distribution level, in various manufacturing levels. At each one of these levels only individuals determine value.


Without exception separate individuals make all judgments regarding value.

Keep this in mind, for it becomes very important in our further discussions about free markets.

You might want to refer to The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. In the book, contrary to what the title might lead you to believe, crowds tend to make accurate choices because of individuals making decisions separately.

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