response paper thinking more about values

Purpose: As we’ve discussed already in the class, microeconomic theory presents one way of experiencing the world and interpreting human behavior. But economic theory isn’t limited to what’s presented in the book, or even in the supplemental reading I’ve provided. One of the goals of this class is to learn to assess and synthesize conflicting viewpoints. Thinking reflectively about your own values and how they might, or might not, articulate with the market presents a starting point for understanding how different views may result in different, and possibly conflicting, interpretations of theory. In other words, what makes sense and is rational to me might not be rational to you.

The assignment

This assignment has a few parts as is designed to continue our previous work thinking about values and economic markets. I’m curious to see what you think about the role of values in the market. For this assignment think of “the market” as the economic sphere where goods and services are offered for sale.

Part 1: Identifying your key values

  • What values are most important to you and why? Please explain in a few paragraphs.
  • Can you think of 1-2 examples of choices you’ve made, or actions you have undertaken that represent these personal key values?

Part 2: Values and the market (2-3 paragraphs)

  • Where do economic values fit into our microeconomic model? In individual behavior? In the goods and services offered for sale, or excluded from sale?
  • Do you think of “the market” as free from personal values, or do you think it incorporates individual, cultural, and/or societal values?
  • Whose values are represented in the market? Everyone’s? Most people’s? A minority of the population? etc.

Part 3: Your values and the market (2-3 paragraphs)

  • Are your values well represented by the market?
  • Are any of your core values left out of the market?
  • How could we better incorporate values in the market? Should we?

You’ll note that values don’t really come up much in the textbook, however values are an important aspect of economic choice models. Because we are always making choices, we are always picking one option over another. Basic economic theory assumes price is the determining factor, which makes sense given that basic theory also assumes self-interest. However, we may also make non-price choices and other values may influence those decisions. In order to think critically about economic theory, it’s worthwhile to explore your own values and see where they fit into the economy as we know it. It’s also worthwhile to think about how we could improve the market. Values might, or might not, be part of that.

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