The standard commodity

An inevitable measure of value

Giorgio Gilibert*

The discovery of a right measure puts down rebellion and favours harmony. Unfairness disappears and justice prevails. With a right measure, men will agree about their mutual obligations.

(Archytas of Tarentum)

And Cain invented weight and measure, and transformed innocent and generous men into cunning and selfish beings, corrupting their lives.

(Flavius Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae)

The ‘invariable standard of value’ is a theme that Piero Sraffa considered of central importance. Indeed, he dedicated more than half of the first part of his book to this. And yet — almost fifty years after the book’s publication — there is no general consensus among scholars regarding the ...

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