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l o u r n d aJLlbrrrnnon Sud8er. Vol. 2. No. 4, pp. I l l - 1%.

a Pcrsamon Prerr Lld. 1918. Printed in Crcat Britain.

JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY OF VALUE

KAREN I. VAUGHN

Deparlmenr o/ Economics, George Mason University

It is taken for granted by most economists and not always be as important as how he was later
political philosophers that John Locke was in interpreted, we must discover the former in
some sense a precursor of the labor theories of order to accurately understand and appreciate
value of the nineteenth century British Classical the latter. Hence, in the following pages I will
School and of Karl Marx, yet there is a wide attempt to supply the missing detailed analysis
divergence of opinion on how Locke's work an- of John Locke's "labor theory of value".
ticipated and influenced the work of later It is not surprising that there should be such a
political economists. In large part this dif- variety of interpretations on the subject of
ference of opinion stems from a disagreement Locke and the labor theory of value. On the
among historians of economic thought over one hand, Locke himself was ambiguous about
how to interpret Locke himself on the subject what he meant by both value and labor in the
of labor and economic value. The only point of Second Treatise (as we shall see below), and on
agreement is that, in his major political essay, the other, there is no uniform agreement among
the Second Treatise of Government,[" Locke economists as t o what constitutes a labor theory
developed a theory of property which showed of value and who, if anyone, ever espoused
some relationship between labor and economic such a theory.[31It seems appropriate, then, to
value. Historians of economic thought cannot define how the term labor theory of value will
agree on the significance of this relationship or be used in this paper.
on how Locke's ideas on labor and value are There are three possible meanings of a labor
related to his supply and demand theory of theory of value that are relevant to Locke's
market price in his economic writings. It has writings: a labor theory of value may identify
been argued, for example, that Locke had the labor as the source of use-value or utility (the
beginnings of a theory of the exploitation of reason people desire a good in the first place), it
labor, that he provided a labor theory of value may attempt t o explain the determination of
in the long run to supplement his supply and de- relative prices (the exchange value of goods)
mand theory of price in the short run, that he based on some measure of labor inputs, or it
presented the "metaphysical justification" for may claim that labor provides the only
the nineteenth century labor theory of value, justifiable claim to receiving the exchange value
and that he had no labor theory of value at of the goods it produces. A labor theory of
all.'" value in the first sense states that the usefulness
What is characteristic of these and most of goods and services demanded and consumed
other evaluations of Locke's statements about by individuals is created either exclusively or
labor and economic value is that they are principally by the labor that goes into produc-
generally brief mentions of this aspect of ing them. Almost all economists would identify
Locke's thought in the context of larger works labor as a contributor to the use-value of com-
on much broader topics. There has been no modities, but the idea that labor is solely
detailed analysis to discover whether or not responsible for this use-value is unusual and
Locke can be said to have had a labor theory of probably only found in the writings of Karl
value in any sense of the term. While in the Marx.[" While explanations of the ultimate
history of ideas, what a man actually said may cause of value have concerned economists for

it is as a theory in the determination of price in either the long run the second sense. he argued that private property The following pages will attempt to show (a) was established in the state of nature not by the that Locke did identify labor as the primary consent of mankind. that two goods which earth and the fruits thereof which God had pro- take the same amount of labor to produce vided for their use. That is. in order to survive. the modified by the society which sanctioned it ethical implications of Locke's ideas on labor originally. for example. 3041 goes into producing a product.deer LOCKE'S LABOR THEORY OF PROPERTY example in the Wealth of Nations. however. (b) that he did not connect discuss a labor theory of value. and (c) while he did hold a labor tionship between the relative value of one com. However. a labor theory of or the short run with the labor used t o produce value most often means a theory about the rela. a theory of property implied. mankind who once shared in the original com- economists mean when they speak of a labor munistic ownership of these resources. although God should exchange for each other. men all had common access to the might hold. that mative sense that the Ricardian socialist^^'^ and since property only existed at the consent of Karl Marx read L o ~ k e . these ethical ques.312 KAREN I . ' although it is society. when most economists source of use-value. While the ethical questions of general. and the problem of reward depends upon the price at which the seventeenth century political philosophers in product is sold. being normative rather than of nature before governments had come into positive. It is also possible to construct a famous justification for private ownership of labor theory of value that admits capital as a goods and land on the basis of the effort o r productive agent but still shows changes in labor which individuals expend to produce relative prices to be determined by changes in goods or to cause the land to produce goods of labor as. VAUGHN two thousand years.151 where in All discussions of Locke's "labor theory of the absence of scarce land and capital. ' ~Hence. ed in the state of nature by the cansent of all Indeed. a conclusion which Locke sought to and value will be a major concern of this paper. it is this normative form that most non. Grotius and Pufendorf had and the labor theory of value in both the both argued that private property was establish- economics and political philosophy literature. to explain how these appropriated the just price and the just wage are not unique resources became legitimate private property to labor theories of value. but by natural law. sions he arrived at were generally favorable to Such a theory tries to establish an exclusive capitalism as he knew it and to the private pro- relationship between the effort (or time) of the perty system upon which that capitalism was laborer and relative price of the commodity he based. The structure of The third sense in which a labor theory of Locke's defense of private property is un- value is often understood is different from the doubtedly familiar to most readers. the ex. which excluded other men from having any tions have been closely associated with Locke claim upon them. clothe and shelter themselves. and it was in this nor. A normative labor theory of value existence. and any pat. did David Ricardo. value" ultimately refer to the theory of property change rate of a beaver and deer is equal to the he develops in Chapter V of the Second inverse of the labor time which has gone into Treatise. it might instead attempt to define men had to appropriate some of these resources the just reward for the services of the labor that to feed. . In the state other two. [p. where the just It was Locke's problem. had given all men an equal right to use the tern of prices that deviates from this norm is earth's resources. It is there that Locke presents his hunting them. this consent could be withdrawn or not strictly a question of economic theory. some argue. a product.['] value to human beings. Or. individual unjust. Instead. theory of value in an ethical sense. avoid.'s1 Such theory of value at all. The most obvious (and perhaps only) example of a pure labor theory of exchange value is found in Adam Smith's beaver . his defini- modity to another and the quantity of labor tion of labor was such that the ethical conclu- which has gone into producing each of them. produces.

this sense. and hence labor creates "most of the value" of things we enjoy in this world. from the simple act of ben. Locke's basic premise is that nature by eyes. can labor theory of value usually support their in. hands. 3141 survive. . satisfy few of man's needs. we mav sav. Whatsoever skins or moss. 3111 Thus. Land. Locke terpretation by citing Locke's many statements pointedly refers to the Spanish practice of call- about the relative unimportance of land com. himself. Indeed. . [pp. when coupled with his right and duty to value. 3191 and rails labor was necessary to justify all types of ac. The labor of his body. 3121 Labor is primarily responsible nature. [p. Locke makes clear that he means the "real use and necessary support of life". he hath mixed h ~ labor s with. although he does not claim itself provides very little that is of value to that land creates no value. work (this is the usual connotation of the word [p. The question now arising is the nature of the cludes the common right of other men. and all inferior creatures k com- nature" providing very little that is valuable mon to all men. of value Locke has in mind when he pended in purposeful action. and thereby makes it his property. This no body has any right to but whatever bread is more worth than acorns. are orooerlv his. it had important implications for for creating products which are more useful in Locke's view of economic value. is ex. [pp. "labor" to include any act of appropriation of 3181 It is objective in the sense that there is im- natural resources. LABOR AS THE SOURCE OF VALUE the common pool of resources. when Locke is once joyned to. . no man but he can have a right to what that some ambiguity in his usage. permitted him to create private proper- ty where none previously existed: Locke repeats this theme of "unassisted Though the Earth. by itself. tively more valuable than acorns. While this very general definition of useful to the life of man". [p. at least where there is enough. [p. which depends only on that private property is justified through hard [something's] usefulness to the life of man". and he will find. that ex. and cloth than plicated process of production which involves silk. no matter how trivial. sown with wheat or barley. contributes almost nothing to value when theory of property as implying some kind of compared to labor since land. 3151 it hath by his labor something annexed to it. and the work of his wine than water. and speaks of value created by labor. what the oortance of labor comoared to land in the oro- difference is between an acre of land planted with duction of valuable gdods might be somewhat . bread is objec- fallen to the ground. that is wholly owing to labor and then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided. "For own person. For this value which labor creates. or sugar. 3121 He also refers to this kind of value as "labor"). and access to God's earthly resources. the value it does mankind unless it is combined with labor: create is minimal when compared to labor. Although there is labor being the unquestionable property of the laborer. industry". and cloth or silk than leaves. . for example. [p. For 'tis labor indeed that puts the differenceof value Locke's insistence on the overwhelming im- on every thing. It k i n g by him the far greatest part of the value of things we removed from the common state nature placed it in. that the im- man had a natural right to self ownership provement of labor makes the far greater paR of the which. he usually as good left in common for others. and left it In. against the desire men have for more than they quisition of unowned resources in the state of need. ing fallow land "waste" to emphasize the pared to labor in the production of valuable smallness of its contribution to value in his goods. . on the other Those who have interpreted Locke's labor hand. [p. JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY OF VALUE 313 Natural law dictated that all men had common tobacco. to the launching of a com. [p. plied a common standard of usefulness for all ding over and picking up acorns which have people. and that each a n acre of the same land lying in common without any husbandry upon it. and he concludes that "labor makes and joyned to it something that is his own. an "in- Although the above passage seems to imply trinsick value. it is defined as characterizes gold and silver as being "little labor. because they provide for more of the owning the land itself. [p.. enjoy in this world". 3171 It is this kind any human effort. and let anyone consider. 305 -3061 means some kind of objective utility. yet every man has a property in his again and again. so that. 308-3091 Anytime "conveniences of life". as when he says.

but in this case natural law is especially easy to comply with since it coincides with the LABOR AS A MEASURE O F VALUE self-interest of all mankind. Locke minimized the role of land his labor does. Thus. then. mon stock t o provide for their support than if fect. Thus. He by place. rayment. Locke argues that "he that incloses more acceptable to his audience. the activity by which men acquire the conscious application of labor to "worth. inclose it from the in the creation of value because he was attemp. and there is then more to support themselves. they need less of thecom- from the institution of private property. as it were. mankind for its legitimacy. cultivates. improves. [p. the source of value in all commodities that While it is not difficult to accept that one could be increased in supply and then attemp- should "own" the water one draws from a ted to develop a theory of value in which the stream or the wheat one grows on otherwise quantity of labor necessary t o produce a com- fallow land. and a king o f a large and fruitful territory there posefully applied to land. have the application of labor. yet for want o f improving it by labour. Locke perceived that it was more modity explained its exchange value. 314. he also took pains 3121"'' That is. apt to produce in abun. [p. i. goods people consume. and once labor is pur- not one hundreth part o f the conveniences we enjoy. while he land and has a greater plenty of the conve- argued that the right to own property apart niences of life from ten acres. In ef. when men choose to mix their to point out the beneficial effects that flow labor with the earth. plants. when Identifying labor as the source of use value is Locke says that labor makes the greatest part of not the same thing as making it the measure of the value of things we enjoy. 3081 What makes ownership of ting to demonstrate conclusively to his readers the land itself palatable. [p. what might serve for food. T o recapitulate so far: it is obvious that There cannot be a clearer demonstration o f any thing. . in- that: cluding those who d o not own land.314 KAREN 1 VAUGHN puzzling in view of the common seventeenth difficult to justify owning the land itself.3151 In this limited sense. may truly which did not depend upon the consent of be said to give ninety acres to mankind". fruitful sail. his purpose is to exchange value (or price) although the two emphasize these utilitarian implications of ideas may be found in the work of one man. is also the activity which less" natural resources. so much is his property. 3141 even when land ownership is limited to a few. 2 n d can use which the discussion of land and labor takes the product of. century view of land and labor as co-equal although he claimed that the same principle of sources of value. This is obvious when one considers and thus. In fact. "right and common stock left over to support others. who are rich in Land. [p. England. and is clad worse than a day laborer in crease in the usefulness of the products created. with the materials o f plenty. there is a dramatic in- feeds. when one considers the context in tills. private property. in this case. Hence. Locke did have a labor theory of value. The puzzle evaporates. claimed that labor was theory of economic value. labor. as savages. source of use value. and alone could not be enjoyed by humans without delight. however. common". than several nations o f the Americans are o f Locke believed that labor was the primary this. property is beneficial to everyone.e. conveniency went together". natural law guarantees one's right to pro- perty. the products of land dance. whom nature having furnished as responsible for a small part of the use value of liberally as any other people. for example. 3201 Without Thus. he argued that while private property is the they merely lived off the products of inevitable moral consequence o f men laboring "unassisted nature". [pp.'"' Smith. ownership applies: "As much land as a man however. men would be living makes the earth more supportive of human life. and poor in all the cam. private property rather than to enunciate a Ricardo. are the exter- how "the property of labor should be able to nal benefits accruing to mankind in general overbalance the community of land". in an effort to make his theory of property In fact. lodges. While land by itself was forts o f life. than he could from the common was a result o f natural law have from an hundred left to nature.

is implied in a passage we have already quoted while the actual measure of that benefit is the in part: market price of the thing in question. JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY OF VALUE 315 in contrast. As we have alreadq Locke's major economic essay. but close examination of be made from this passage about Locke's ideas both works suggests that the theory of on labor and economic value. there is no reason to duced with differing amounts of labor is found suspect that Locke believed there to be any in the following passage: causative connection between the amount of An acre of land that bears here twenty bushels of labor used to produce a good and its market wheat. If this interpreta- values? Bread and wine may be more useful (or tion is correct. of the same natural. who identified labor as the primary something could (and often was) different from source of use-value. from this passage at least. [p. without What makes this interpretation of Locke's doubt. Tis labor then which puts the his economic writings. . Perhaps the most economic value he developed in his economic striking has to do with the way he contrasts the writings also informed his discussions of value "intrinsick" value of land with the "benefit in his political essay. could in some way be used to measure and com. and another in America. goods are not valuable simply because Evidence that Locke at least considered the labor has gone into producing them. ". if all the profit an indian received from it is consistent with the value theory he presents in were to be valued. then what Locke believes is that desirable) than acorns and water. skins or from an Indian's land in America were sold at moss.^"^ But further implication that the intrinsic value of did Locke. It has been suggested by greatest part of the value upon land. would do the like. Englishman would receive from the output of a which how much they exceed the other in value. did not identify labor as a source of sic value of goods had been defined. without which some writers that Locke presents two inconsis- it would scarcely be worth anything. the of valuable goods also results in the creation of measure of that value is not the amount of ownership rights. at least. and cloth or silk than leaves. he will then see. . Therefore. 3161 tent value theories in his political and his There are several interesting inferences that can economic writings. Locke is saying that if all the output than water. . current market prices in England. in accor- value. " . would receive only 1/1000 of the income an sions which our industry and pains prepare for us. with the price. the other provi. earlier in the Second Treatise. are. comparable piece of land in England. also believe that labor its market value. For the when anyone hath computed. only on their usefulness to the life of modities". which. but the portance to Locke to be able to measure how market price at which it can be sold. [p. Ap- For whatever bread is more woRh than acorns. mankind receives" from it. but also the fact that it penny. the intrinsic value of a thing seems to pare the exchange value of goods? The problem be only a potential it has to benefit mankind. 3121 This definition was also can compare the values of different com. same husbandry. In the above passage. the intrin. not 1/1000. that is wholly owing to labor and industry. 3151 ductive while the Indian did little more than But how does one go about computing these gather the bounty of nature. and "the only measure by which we m a n . in a year. and from the other possibly not worth a its internal consistency. wine parently. problem of comparing the value of goods pro. But yet the benefit mankind receives from theone. [p. view of labor and value so appealing is not only is worth 51."41 The im- much value labor creates. and sold here. siderations of the Consequences of Lowering . "Some Con- noted. How then does Locke plication is clear: men labor to produce goods propose to compare the value of goods produc. but how while labor creates the "greatest part of the much more valuable? In a world where creation value of things we enjoy in this world". the Indian The one of these being the food and rayment which unassisted nature furnishes us with. intrinsick value. labor which goes into producing it. one would think it of vital im. as depending measure of the exchangeable value of all com. but he did claim that labor was "the real dance with common usage. how much labor makes the far greatest part of the value Englishman had labored to make his land pro- of things we enjoy in this world. however. . which men will value (and are willing to pay ed by labor? for). with the modities at all times and at all place^". used in Locke's economic writings. I may truly say.

[pp. any money: because their quantity i s immensely . his essay deals more with the subject of answer this question satisfactorily by market value and money than it does with the distinguishing total from marginal utility. i s not the What more useful or necessary things are there to altering o f any intrinsick value or quality in the com. usefulness only another. and is economic thinkers at least from the time of sometimes sold dearer than wine. which depends upon their objective usefulness the price they will pay depends upon the quanti- in supporting human life. yet the Bounty of Providence has made their usefulness and its exchange value? Locke grants production large. and yet these have generally no price at all. Hence it is. [pp. The price. the less important the use which the additional . and suitable to it. though their consumption be what is the relationship between a good's great.1"' It is useful than wheat in the abstract. for example. That the intrinsick natural worth of anything. Locke if they are both useful and if their capability t o found it necessary to explain how prices were in support human life doesn't change? Two cen- fact determined in the marketplace.316 KAREN l VAUGHN the Interest Rate and Raising the Value of tled value in anything.671 everywhere. necessity or usefulness. the being or well-being of men. . but only insofar as it the conveniences of human life. but the Logical question interest from 6% to 4%. as to make any assigned Money". This orooortion in all commodities. . 461 but notice here that a thing's another. But as soon as ever water (for air still offers itself 66 . and the mare affects the vent (or demand) for the product. The marketable value of any assigned quan. the usefulness of something does consists in its fitness to supply the necessities or serve help to determine its price. Locke perceives that there is a difference bet. 5. because. as convenience. proportion of their quantity to their vent. necessary i t i s to our being. In order to support his t o ask is why not? Why doesn't a gallon of contention that interest is a price. of wheat. thermore. but the alteration of some proportion. He says. and that in water always exchange for two bushels of wheat general prices can not be dictated by law. As a turies later. that water is more decreases as its quantity increases. and saying tempting to argue that Locke was saying that that one gallon of water is "worth" two bushels the greater the quantity of any good available. furthermore. 63-611 (as he also did in the Second Treatise) that Given that the quantity of a good is sufficiently goods have an "intrinsick natural worth" limited that people will pay some price for it. . price. increases as its quantity is reduced and ween stating. nor yield which the commodity bears to something else. In addition. as to make any assigned quantity of i t constantly worth any assigned quantity of mine". that Aristotle. who first formulated the question: the best. in a concise summary of his but also on the quantities which are available. than air and waler modity . the subjective evaluation of the individuals con- tities of two or more commodities are pro hic and nun?. and therefore is nowhere of any price) comes anywhere What we see in this passage is Lockegrapp. usefulness is not invariable but is determined by 3. subject stated in the title. demand for the good. or the more i t con- tributes to our well-being the greater i s its worth. . economists would finally be able to result. . or. or opi- 2. guarantees that people want a good. That there i s no such intrinsick natural settled nion guided by fancy or fashion shall deter- value in anything. and we find Locke Locke only approached the correct answer by stating very clearly what he believes to be the recognizing that the exchange values of goods relationship between intrinsic value and market depend not only on their usefulness in general. . . not that 4. i t begins presently to have a price. equal. yet he does not ty of the good proportional to its vent. as believe that this usefulness determines the price this is commonly interpreted. i s the greater than their vent in most places of the world. and most useful things are commonly the cheapest. when they will exchange one for suming the good. but "The vent of anything depends upon its yet. He says that there is no "natural set.l"l was published in 1692 to oppose a quantity of it constantly worth any assigned bill before Parliament to lower the legal rate of quantity of another". to be reduced into any proportion to its consump- ling with a problem which had troubled tion. without restraint or inclosure.["' Fur- 1. theory of value: quantities which are subject t o change. on the supply and at which specific quantities of goods exchange. [p. The change of this marketable value of any they will be willing to pay a price for it: commodity in respect of another commodity or in respect of a standing common measure.

we still The second indication that Locke may have must question whether he also believed market believed that labor could be used as a measure price to be somehow influenced by the labor of value is in the penultimate paragraph of which goes into producing valuable com. [p. He says: the goods it produces. price. ing. or 999/1000[20'of the value of this result. or if stream. and just asserted that this is in fact the It appears that all Locke intended to say with case. he means that when This is the only place in his writings where men expend productive effort. they produce Locke refers to labor as the measure1"' (italics things which people value more highly than the his) of value. gold and silver. In great part."'] Thus. (Recall that one interpretation of the use of money on the distribution of proper- Locke is that he believed the labor used in pro. for here Locke value. 3061 This means that no consumed labor is in great part the measure of the value of goods can be the products of nature alone the gold and silver men use. and what he means by this is by things offered by nature alone. was measured by its ship to price but only by creating utility market price and that the market price was reflected in demand for the goods it creates. which may be hoarded tionship between labor and price cannot be up without injury to anyone. labor does bear some relation- something. Did Locke have some ac- But since gold and silver. the overplus. Locke sidestepped the question of why ship between the quantity of labor (or land) re- the greater the quantity. or its value. o f man in proportion t o food. which Locke was directly interested in answer. I I IS pldin i h d ~men haie agreed I" jhpruporuunatc hyperbole to emphasize the importance of labor and uncqudl p o w c w o n o f the earth. I k n m r o 5 u r r . JOHN LOCKE A N D T H E LABORTHEORY O F VALUE 317 unit will serve and therefore the lower the price more labor to produce command a higher people will pay for it. the greater While it appears so far that Locke believed their vent (or demand) and the higher their that the "benefit" mankind received from price. or was he just resorting to uheteof ldbor )el makes. The first is men have agreed among themselves to use several statements that labor is responsible for money. by receiving in exchange for contexts of the statements. product in mind. One is not sure if he means to defined labor to be merely picking up acorns say that labor is in great part the measure of the from the ground or drawing water from a consent of men t o use gold and silver. Is he not is correct. If the first reading without any labor being expended. 9 9 / 1 0 0 . The market operates according to supply his numerical examples was that the greater the and demand: why this is so was not a question amount of labor mixed with land. the) h w n a bb to the creation of value? While the latter seems a tacit. the idea of a rela. how the more likely explanation considering the a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product o f . In this disputed passage. but since both are in the Second Treatise. It is undoubtedly true that when ing or decaying in the hands o f the possessor. in general. and wealth to be unequally distributed. Yet Locke has no means clear. and voluntary consent found out a way. the lower the market quired to produce a good and its market price.)t"' actually uses the term measure in connection There are only two indications that Locke with labor and value. might have considered labor in some way to be Locke is arguing that the use of money allows related to the selling price of a product. these metals not spoil- airily dismissed. same thing as asserting a predictable relation- Instead. rayment. he is saying no more than that the then implicitly saying that goods requiring degree to which men consent to value gold and .lml the more useful the goods produced.has its value only from the consent of men. there is nothing inherently immoral in 9/10. 3191 he claims the value of things useful to the life of man is 99/100 due to labor. this is not at all the marginal utility t o Locke would be misplaced. This instance is to be taken more duction of a good measures its long run seriously than the previous one. ty in society. Chapter V where he is discussing the effect of modities. determined by supply and demand. and car- tributions of labor and land and the price of the r i a ~ e . but imputing such a market price than goods which require little sophisticated understanding of diminishing labor? O n the other hand. the more useful the resulting goods produced. [p. being little useful to the life tual numerical relationship between the con.

in favor of others. Yet in "Some Con. there are two kinds of ty of labor and the public benefits of property ethical arguments on labor and value: the first ownership. any other utensils. and the baker's sweat. He tells us: is fundamentally a theory of the "just" price For 'tis not barely the plough-man's pains. yet once production moves beyond the of its tortuous reasoning is the correct one. which are vast number.[2s' Locke market price of commodities. The second possible somewhat eccentric interpretation. The problem arises when even in the long run. it is not unreasonable goods it produces and not the other way to assume that he believed men would consent around.'"' many people cooperate t o produce a valuable good. by political philosophers and economists alike If this is true. reaper's and thresher's toil. and there is no way to determine what something new and uniquely his own. it is simple form of one man subduing nature to his obvious that there is not enough evidence in this will. in fact. This is a analytic or ethical sense.lZalwhich leads us to believe that if labor amenable to this kind of argument. and therefore the prices of timber imployed about the plough. Does not Locke thought this relationship might be. In fact. Locke has said that the value of full value of the output as his just reward. to acquire property. is to answer "yes" to this ques- assume that the second interpretation with all tion. the laborer is entitled to receive the siderations". This is the argument that of gold and silver and not the measure of men's since labor creates the value of the output it consent to value the metals. This ob. since he uses We have identified a third way . who digged and wrought the iron and stones. So much measures the value of money. meant by this strange passage. responsible for creating economic value.an ethical the fact of many laborers cooperating in the sense . ethical implication of a labor theory of value. may very well be applicable to Locke held labor to be the measure of the value Locke's thought. and given his view that the value distributed property resulting from the use of of labor depends upon the market value of Phe gold and silver as money. that he has frequently beencriticized measure the value of the things money can buy. In a production process that involves more than one laborer. mill. however. but even if we presumably. who owns the final pro- A NORMATIVE INTERPRETATION duct and how is that ownership determined? It OF LOCKE'S LABOR THEORY OF is evident that Locke expects his theory of pro- VALUE perty to apply to such situations. is The former holds that the real value of to be counted into the bread we eat.318 KAREN 1 silver is the degree to which they have labored viously is not what Locke believed. Man roboration for it anywhere in the rest of his mixes hi body with God's resources to produce writings. We have already argued that there is to the valuing of these otherwise worthless no indication that Locke believed that prices metals in proportion to thedegree to which they should in any way reflect labor-time in either an had labored to acquire property. who felled and framed the forts to produce. the labor o f something is what it costs in terms of human ef. requisite . the while the second is a theory of the "just" wage.in which a labor theory of value can be production of goods to illustrate the productivi- interpreted. it must also so. it has appeared to some Locke scholars one dependent clause to support the view that that he ignores the property rights of some men Locke had an analytic labor theory of value. oven. produces. Since Locke believed that sistence on quantity and vent as the only deter- one of the main reasons for forming civil minants of market price (the only kind of price governments was to protect the unequally he discussed). The more common one is the second. then he must have thought there for not perceiving fully the implications of his was some relationship between labor and the theory of property for wage labor. given his in. those who broke the oxen. There this man have a right to everything he creates? is no way to know for certain what Locke The whole purpose of the Second Treatise. or goods should equal these real costs. money depends upon the goods that it can Locke's theory of property is highly buy. The problem argues that the act of creating property is with this interpretation is that there is no cor. that however.

Thus the grass my horse has bit. guaranteed wage rather than an unspecified moners. in exchange for wages he is to owns the product created? receive: and though this commonly puts him into the family o f his Master. and present and the effort of the one who directs the removing it out of the state nature leaves it in. In has put a human being on the same functional the absence of a theory of wage determination. this in no way implies consis- mon with others. which begins lheproperly. In another context later in the Second sells his output for a price to the individual who Treatise he discusses the limits of the power of is engaged in the next stage of production.'"' This is only partly materials. wage labor. the owner of the output produced contractual arrangement where the laborer is is the employer who directed the production. Locke does put wage labor on the same functional level as a horse insofar as they are Yet. 3161'''' true. of wage rate determination in his economic This passage has generated a good bit of writings. and at For a Free-man makes himself a servant t o another. duced the capital goods used by laborers in the that 'tis taking any part o f what is common. there would be an employer by selling him far a certam time. least sometimes. Locke sees the relationship between infer that he would argue that in any produc. then. Who. labor as substitutable inputs). yet it gives the master but a tem- rights under the division of labor specifically. . a laborer (or servant) and his employer as a tion process. Ihe turfs portion of the market value of the product. Locke is saying that the fact that a Locke's attitude toward the property rights laborer worked to produce a product does not of wage laborers would be more satisfying if he lead automatically to the establishment of that had addressed himself directly to the problem product as the property of the laborer. yet it is unfair to ceive of an organizing principle where at each say that he neglects the property rights of wage stage of production. from being seed to be sown t o its being for as little pay as he can get away with. And the taking o f this or that part. for example. able to negotiate with the employer for a wage He states precisely this when he describes how which represents his entire claim to the property men establish property in what was originally created by his work. with the wage earner receiving a depend o n the express consent o f all the Com. we can Obviously. In ef- made bread. [p. without which the common is o f labor of others: each receives part of the value n o use. 3071 tent exploitation of wage labor at the hands of In so far as servants can be taken to represent employers. Needless to say. If it could be shown that Locke believ- comment in the literature on Locke's political ed that wages depended upon something other philosophy as being evidence of Locke's view than a two party contract between employer that wage labor was somehow inferior to and employee. in- medieval commons: cluding the effort of those who in the past pro- We see in Commons. JOHN LOCKE AND THE L ABOR THEORY O F VALUE 319 to this corn. and n o greater than what is there are several indications that the problem contained in the contract between 'em. as in themselves. it would be easier to claim that employer labor. the individual producer labor. [p. creates value and undertakes t o do. more than one when he explains: person must work to produce the good. labor refers to all effort. my servonl has cul [italics mine] and the ore I have dug in any place where I have a right to them in com. [p. Pascal Larkin. how does the labor theory of property a p p both factors of production (much the same as a ly in a society where production takes place modern economist would treat capital and through a division of labor? One might con. porary power over him. becomes my property. and received as an effect o f that: nature and the Earth furnished only the almost worthless property rights at all. does not he creates. 3401 would not have troubled him. In fact. must all be charged o n the account o f fect. . . Larkin argues. and under the ordinary While Locke does not discuss ownership discipline thereof. Yet a n employer over the behavior of his employee in at least some of these stages. the service he and an employee. Locke did not believe that wage earners were in has complained that in the above passage Locke danger of being "exploited" by employers. which remain s o by compact. Although it is labor that part of the common stock by referring to the creates property. level as a man's horse and implies that the Locke is still open to Larkin's criticism that employer can therefore extract as much work employers are entitled to pay employees as little . Locke gives wage labor no labor.

the he gives no analytic reason why this should be fact that such relationship exists implies so. And while it is still technically true to one's sense of justice only if one believes that both employer and employee are able employees to be weak and inefficient legitimately to negotiate for as much of thepro- bargainers relative to employers.'~']The first European countries to avoid suffering an condition guaranteed that the second would ob- emigration of English laborers. There is some evidence that earners by malevolent wage payers. earners earn little is not presented as the fault of According to Marx. and rents are analyzed as prices in Locke's even if this is what Locke meant. the occasions Locke asserts that laborers live relevant question was not whether employers "from hand to mouth" or that they generally are fair in their dealings with employees. To Marx.320 KAREN I. it is usually assumed that wage earners will almost MARX ON LOCKE always get the worst of any deal made with Although Locke certainly did not envision wage-payers. however. interest.[~'J In the from the vagaries of the marketplace and from Second Treatise.[''] Wage earners of various more than he could use without allowing any of kinds were portrayed as moving in response to his property to spoil or go to waste. we recall. either wage. the source of exploita- their employers: wage earners."" rather why the employer . in order for labor to be exploited. exploitation There is no direct treatment of wages in was inherent in the system which permitted un- "Some Considerations". And to him.employee relation- This is no "iron law of wages". which differed from that determined by sympathies so generally run toward the wage the market. one didn't favored the employer and sometimes favored have to postulate the existence of evil employers the employee. "capitalist expropriation" of what rightfully cantilist idea. Locke describes private property in the state of nature. however. yet Locke himself did not make any consistent exploitation of poor wage this assumption. a group whose usefulness Locke did with common. Of course. unowned resources to create not recognize. or what the consequences to the employer. however. is that Locke described a wage as they can get away with. they as correctly be argued that Locke's theory of are both constrained by a market wage. then. The property entitles wage earners to extract as high crucial point. Locke believed that some peo- . just as interest employee agrees to the wage rate. equal to other wanted to create his own pr~perty. and therefore wage rates. Thus.we1In addition. thereby also injuring the long as two conditions held: that no one took suffering farmer. but earn little more than a subsistence income. For Marx. who suffer and was perpetuated in civil ~ociety. VAUGHN as they can get away with as long as the to as if they are market prices. there is no specific discussion of the determina. the fact that wage belongs to labor. both in at least one circumstance where farm workers consumable goods and in the land itself. Karl Marx Locke actually believed wage contracts were nevertheless saw in Locke the beginnings of a constrained by a market rate which sometimes theory of surplus value.'"] a fact that to Locke argued there were enough common resources of com- for the necessity of keeping England's money parable quality remaining for anyone who supply. For some reason. since ship emerges in the first place. he just accepts this typically mer. yet profit. Even under these conditions of equal oppor- tion of a market wage rate. wages are referred tunity. all people had an equal right to mix their labor dlemen. in Locke's essay tion in Locke's system is the unequal distribu- are usually farm workers just barely worse off tion of wealth that arose in the state of nature than their tenant farmer employers. rent."" earner that this argument seems never to have occurred to anyone. while tain in the early stages of the state of nature. but on three separate equal property ownership. it is upsetting economics. The in times of scarce labor could negotiate for right to own private property was unlimited so ruinously high wages. Instead. Furthermore. Locke argued that the hardship caused by "brokers" or mid. no matter no just reward. and that higher wages. i t might just perty as they created by their joint labor.

3081 who would He Ihat gathered a llundred hu>hcl. as well as dishonest. as we have already the perlrhlng uf anylhmg urelcsrl) In i t . or wool for a with property. He was only to look that While the political consequences of the in- he used them before they spoiled. the economic more than he could make use of. ur ap. they Here h s perty in jeopardy. Marx claim- While there is an element of agreement in the ed that interest and rent were evidence of origin of money. In this case. That is. and keep those by mixing their labor with the resources (land him all his life. so long as nothing mon stock."" goods as soon as gathered. it The introduction of money plays a pivotal becomes possible for the more industrious to role in Locke's state of nature in that it marks a increase their wealth relative to the less in- transition period leading inevitably to a more dustrious without running up against the complex economy and to the creation of civil spoilage limitation to property ownership. It is more in the propriated by the property owner and hence . or exchange his sheep for shell. he wasted not the common stock. As a government. thc ciceeding of ihc hound5 of hts j u t pro- ~~ and/or capital) owned by others to create their own property. With the ad- use. 3171 Eventually. the diversity in property ownership believing that the use of money implies pro- would be small. but perishable supports of life. however. Locke describes the origin of result. Hence money enables the inequality might possibly be a means by which men at. these he also made use of. will have to find some way of sparkling pebble or a diamond. some lasting thing that men might keep without spoiling. poire\\ion. 3181 Marx is less and less of the common stock left for called the results of this agreement a "political newcomers to mix their labor with. the demand for common resources in- money as an "agreement among men to place creases and resources finally become "scarce an imaginary value on an otherwise worthless and of some value". The most important economic conse- eating a whole year. they would then the truly useful. as long as but which arises out of an undesigned social everyone took only what he could use before it p r o c e s ~ . And if wealth and exhaustion of the common stock are he also bartered away plums that would have rotted also important (and more to the point of this in a week. [pp. its evolution can hardly be surplus value created by the worker and ex- called a political invention. Locke actually government provides a means by which proper- describes money as the result of an evolutionary ty owners protect themselves against the "quar- process conforming exactly with natural law: relsome and contentious" [p. or by in essence acting as entrepreneurs And thus came in the use of money. else he took more than his share. and robbed others. It is at this point of Surplus Value. to hoard up been too sketchily treated here). he invaded not the right of others. Although Locke's that men decide to enter into a contract to form use of the term "agreement" seems to imply a civil government to protect and regulate their consciously formulated contract (and if so. p. but becoming wage earners. destroyed no part of the portion quence is that after the exhaustion of the com- of goods that belonged to others. And indeed it was troduction of money are significant (and have a foolish thing. They can do this either by pert) no1 bing in the largeness of hi. 310-3111 vent of an acceptable money-commodity. t ~M ~ ]a x was correct. If he gave away a consequences of the resultant inequality of part to any body else. so that it perished not uselessly in his possession. [pp. [p. and tempt to subvert natural law). [p. there substance [precious metals]". pleased with its color. 3091 and would create more property for acceptance for its existence and continuance. 01 acorn. noted. and that and borrowing land and capital to finance their by mutual consent men would take in exchange for own enterprises. those who want to earn a living but perished uselessly in his hands. if he would are not lucky enough to be born into a family give his nuts for a piece of metal. he did no injury. Again. he ~~- miaht heaD uo as much of these durable things he plc&d. for nuts that would last g w d far his paper). otherwise put the enjoyment of legitimate pro- ples. of wealth to perpetuate and increase in size. JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY O F VALUE 321 ple would be more "industrious and rational" nature of a convention depending upon social [p. However. had lhacb) a pruwrly in ihum. until money comes into found consequences for society. 365). themselves than others. it property. have to pay the owners a fee (rent and/or in- 318-3191 terest) for the use of the property. and invention" contradicting the law of nature on disputes between property owners and non- which private property was founded (Theories owners become more frequent. in spoiled.

but that also to receive profit for the loans of money. ' ~ " Borrowing money upon use is not only by the necessity of affairs. This does not propertied class by the propertied (Theories of mean. The measure of the argue. but on the writings. Pearls on land are more nature and another in a politically and useful and hence more valuable than pearls in economically complex society? One could the bottom on the ocean. either in the long run or the left to infer (the preceding quotation not. that labor plays no role in the Surplus Value.1 In summary. some time to the value of o u t ~ u t . That he that has skill in traffick. and who direct the output. That is. prising. - KAREN I. Hence interest. . they perform a goods useful to human life (and therefore function which operates to the mutual benefit desirable). and t o the benefit of those who clear the land. as Marx would money to drive his trade. something and the amount of labor that went pened t o the labor theory of property? One is into its production. T o Locke. short run (concepts that were foreign t o withstanding) that the same rules which apply Locke's thought). 57. however. . 55. . Marx didn't have a point in usefulness and scarcity and not the amount of his reading of Locke. remember that it includes not only direct laber. since they "by compact transfer that contrary. has not only reason to rent land but to payments to all those who have contributed at pay money for the use of it . has not only reason to borrow value created by direct labor. If we recall rents were market means of allocating resources Locke's broad definition of labor. VAUGHN illustrated the exploitation of the non. argued that diving made the pearls more useful siderations". ["Some Considerations". in view of Locke's labor or price of a thing was dependent upon its theory of property. unavoidable to some men. he would also have into another man's pocket"? ("Some Con. While it appears that Locke saw nothing in. is as equitable SUMMARY and lawful. . and these include the activities of of owners and borrowers. While both payments had their origin but all purposeful acts leading to thecreationof in unequal property ownership. one jor creator of economic value. . Locke argues: productive activities of others. who having skill in husbandry but no land of h ~ owns to component costs of production which represent employ it in. as receiving rent for land . saw creation of the property that forms the payment the matter differently. they are contractual ar. p. p. As for the ethical arguments to wage labor also apply to interest and rent that labor should receive as its reward the value payments. as he. that the unequal distribu. but has not money rents (and profits) are not deductions from the enough to exercise it. That is.) Does one rule of value t o the life of men because it made them more creation and ownership apply in the state of readily available. 365). however. the relativevalue wonders if perhaps. and get a livelihood. of the output it created. but much reason to pay use for that money. interest and to the "capitalist" or landowner. and the constitution of human society. Locke would have agreed the major source of value as Locke argues in completely with Archbishop Whately's famous the Second Treatise. p. but then what has hap. While Locke did believe that labor was the ma- equitable in the paying of interest and rent. this was in fact the sub- rangements that permit non-property owners to ject of all of Chapter V in the Second Treal~se."'~'' However. Locke. as Locke did. how can he conclude that dictum: "It is not that pearls fetch a high price rents and interest are legitimate in his economic because men have dived for them. There is no rent developed naturally and justly in the state indication that Locke believed there would be of nature and became institutionalized as part any relationship between the market price of of the social contract. who produce in- society in general by increasing its productive termediate goods for sale. men dive for them because they fetch profit that was the reward of one man's labor a high pri~e. the following can be concluded about Locke and the labor theory of value. usefulness of a thing was the price it would sell tion of property which gives rise to interest and for in the competitive market place. if labor is indeed labor it contained. but as argue (and as Smith on occasion argued). we from the less enterprising to the more enter. return for a specified payment. enjoy the benefits of the property of others in Since individuals mixed their bodies in the form .

In feudal society. feudal privilege". . and can flow to "industrious and rational" people in the those who are most able to use them for their emerging capitalist economy of the seventeenth own (and society's) benefit. one's status. social mobility sion of the bourgeois concept of right as against and improved economic opportunities for all. Locke's Two Treorises of Civil Govern- ment. Marx their labor by selling it as a commodity on the epitomized Locke's philosophy as "the expres. means of the concept of property in one's own Hereafter referred to as Second Trealise. and claimed that it sewed as but especially for the talented and industrious. to the highest bidder.. While land owner- was considered to be a contractual arrangement ship could be an important source of wealth. but also an invitation to created the whole value of the property. were determined by a network of interlocking feudal obligations. 283-446. provided a short description can serve as a concluding philosophical justification for the economic statement here. John Locke. Similarly. The concept of self-ownership is clearly something new which was indisputably their not only a cornerstone of individualism and property. Where Marx saw self-ownership in terms of In a flash of tantalizing insight (which. property endowment. change economy based on Lockean property Locke's labor theory of property implied an rights. JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY OF VALUE 323 of their labor with free resources. in a society received was most likely determined by the characterized by resource scarcity. social and economic mobility. 1967). one's own efforts and the borrowed property of Needless to say. nor did it imply that there should be Commercial economy thrives on the transfer any specific relationship between the value pro. which provides him with a source of in- tion of property ownership. If anything. Peter Laslett ed. to a great degree.profitable. un. where the wage earner settled in advance the land belonged by right not to a noble family but reward he was entitled to receive for his efforts. interest and rent. Furthermore.system. pp. there was no theory of ex. self- market as were all other prices in Locke's ownership implies that everyone has some basic economic thought. one earned property through one's own trepreneur. liberalism of Smith and the British classical privileges and. but the value of that property was happened to work at some project. The amount of the wage he (and status). Hence. then. albeit subsequent English political economy". however. one market determined rewards for past labor doesn't need a pool of common resources or the which served the purpose of allocating property benefits of gentle birth in order to aequire real to the most industrious user in a complex property and wealth: one can do so through economy characterized by scarcity of resources. and ownership of capital in exchange for giving up any property rights in could rival land as a source of personal wealth the final product. were treated as come. It was just this kind of resource stead defined property-creating labor to be the mobility that Locke's labor theory of property labor of the person directing the value-creating and his theory of market value justified. rather than the labor of all who efforts.market.exploitation of workers forced to "alienate" fortunately. that Locke. Locke saw freedom. he never elaborated upon). (2nd ed. With this basic human capital. In his endeavor. one might almost say the en. resources are allocated through a system optimistic view of the possibilities open to all of merit rather than family.capital. That imperfectly and incompletely. perhaps. in a commercial ex- writing on labor and value. Wage labor determined by the market. Locke in. This did not imply that wage labor personal freedom. ultimately tied to land tenure. Cambridge: Cam- feudal limitations of wealth and station by bridge University Press. the "basis for all the ideas of the whole of It was in this way.others who may not have as great a share of ploitation either stated or implied in Locke's vision or ambition. some stock of human both payments originating in unequal distribu. century. they created person. But it was Locke's intent to present a NOTES theory of property which transcended the 1.of resources to those who can make them most duced and the reward to wage labor. one's wealth school more than a century later.

. (Cannan edition. and Eugen Review (May.the accommodation of an European prince does not credit Locke with an economic labor theory of not always so much exceed that o f a n industrious and value. p.Y. the Hutory of Ewnorna's (Chicago: Un~rcrrity of 14. 76. t ~ o nto the mam rase.1776 (Philadelphia: Chilton valuc) rommodit~rr derivr their exchangeable u l u c Co. however. can be illustrated benefits of enclosure assumes "that the increase in the by two examples: Adam Smith and David Ricardo. M. identical pieces of land with and without labor applied tion." Ricardo. a position supported by Ronald 1937). . 1%9). Economic Theory in cond Trealise. 365 -367. Cannan notes that the idea is also found Meek. . interpreted Locke's labor theory of property value". of those left without enough both these major figures in Classical Political land . 419. Both Karl Marx. i.rlabor theory of valuc in i h i i r l y slate *a\ of the products of enclosed land need take place for a 'summary rtatemcnl ilrarly dcsigned as an 1nrrodu2. Locke's argument. 1971).32. Edilion ondo don.: J . 137. 5) Prentice-Hall. (South "no major economist of the classical period heldwhat Holland.. Series 3.td. that Va. 1962). 8. Theories 01 Surplus Value. 28-29 would. 2 materialized in it. 45. American Economic Progress Publishers. p. pp. 1954).421. Samuel Hollander has recently argued per. labor theory of value. Dcnt &Son. Theorier o f Value and Distribulion his subjective value theory in his economic writings.188. implying exploitation of labor. hasvalueon- The Theocv of Value Before Adam Smith (American ly because human labor has been embodied o r Economic Association Publications. Clarendon Press. has misinterpreted this impor- 3. pp. reprmted in Er. pp. 1944) argues that Locke had an objective theory 7. holds that the very act of enclosure releases suasively. The Liberal Polilics of John Locke past labor.id Kicar. "What to it. The theme 11. 12. The great alttntmn psid lo ihc 12. No "distribution" [hat Sm~1h.Y. George Stigler argued in "David Ricardo apparently was (a) enunciating a real cost theory of and the 93% Labor Theorv of Value". (New York: The Modern Library. Mark Blaug. Of course. 59. p. 47. ceeds that of many a n African king. 120 simply states without elaboration that Locke's master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked theory of property had nothing to do with a n economic savages". 1963). . ever held a labor theory of value.: Praeger. A Hislory of (N. Studies in the Labor Theory of Value (London: in Mun and Mandeville. 326 . 140and Henry W. See of value in the Second Treatise which contrasted with Maurice Dobb. mentaries . l959). Othmar Spann. 166 all attribute a labor theory 5. Since Adam smith ( ~ a m b r i i g e Cambridge : University while Edmund Whitaker. 5 . 1973). 212).129. American value and (b) using labor as an index number to Economr Kevrew (June. is unjustified". for example. Theories of Surplus Value (Moscow. societv* to benefit from orivate orowrtv. The Wealth ofNalions. Gordon. The most extreme posi. 1940). "Ause-value. 1959). Locke d o never meant to espouse a true labor theory of value had no concept of marginal productivity. I. to measure the "contribution" of labor. p. VAUGHN 2. The History of Polilical Economv a n d Tarolion. whole product will be distributed to the benefit. have seen. This was especially true of Thomas Hodgskin.. In fact. despite Locke saw arising from property ownership. No.. . . almost twenty 13. pp. idea in Chapter i of Wealth ofNalions. labor quantity and labor cost theories of value in com. Press. Capital and Interest.342. A History ofEconomic frugal peasant. Spiegel. . previously existed for their support. 1959) pp. believes that the Second Treatisecontained a 9. The IdealFoundationr of Retrospect (Homewood. on and more recently Douglas Vickers. 1%2). p. 1973). Studies in the the other hand. be called a labor theory of and 242.367. . as we Economy. worker is 999/1000 of the output. Another implication is that the marginal product o f the Ch~cagoP r r s . and from the ofEconomic Though1 (Engkwood Cliffs. Illinois: Libertarian Press. For a discussion that contrasts Locke's view of original cost of production theory in the long run in which the ownership with that of Grotius and ~ u f e n d o r f rsee cost factors were labor and capital where capital was Martin Seliger. in his unorthodox treatment of of this paper is that Schumpeter was essentially correct Locke's political philosophy in ThePoliliral Theory of and that Meek's position comes closest to the one Passessive Individunlirm: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford: presented here. 180. In these passages. 1959). Economic Thought (New York: Oxford University Inc. but it is still but rather had an empirical hypothesis about the major interesting to note his attempt to compare the output of determinants of long run price. Economic Idem (New York: Harper and Row. (p. Colin Macpherson. The Principles of Political Economy and Tarolion. LO. especially pp. p. 365 . ~~ ~ . 116. by modern usage. That there is some doubt that anyone. and Joseph Schumpeter. as the accommodation of the latter ex- Anolysis (New York: Oiford University Press. pp. 1937). nd). although he does " . of value to Locke on the basis of Chapter V of the Se. in The Economics ofAdam Smilh (Toronto: more raw materials for the rest of mankind rhan had Heinemann Educational Books. is taken by Donald F. Illinois: Richard D. Smith years ago. Irwin. was the Labor Theory of Value". 106. Lawrence and Wishart. or useful article. who claims that von BahpBawerk. except possibly tant passage and thereby misunderstood the benefits Karl Marx. pp. " (p. N. Hannah Robie Sewall. 1911). It is interesting to note that Adam Smith echoed this p. 31. 1958). A History ofEconomic Ideas Press. 21 -22. no. Robert Lekachman. 1965). Evervman's Librarv Economics(New York: Norton and Co. 462-472. TheGrowth from two sources: from their scarcity. Green and Co. Werner Stark. or a1 While it is common to discuss the "labor theories" of least not to the loss. 1930). .w)r m measure real wealth.324 KAREN I. New Jersey: quantity of labor required to obtain them". where he says tion for the labor theory of value". in The Principles of 1901). 1956). in combination with his theories of interest and rent as 4. attributes to Locke "The metaphysical justifica. See.117. the absolute p. Capital (New York: The Modern Library. Macpher- the usual textbook accounts of the labor theory of son argues that Locke's statement about the supposed value of the British Classical school. p. pp. therefore.: Modern Library. c l a m 4 that "poi\ersing ulillty (use Theory of Money 1690. 6. p. Similarly.. 81 . p. (New York: Longmans.

but as pledges to procure. Besides that. John Locke: Economisr and in favor of the emerging "capitalist classes". Posressive Individuolism. of broker5 hmdcrs the tradcof any counlry. or else they will neither work though they serve for few yet they command all the for you.~ - ~eriodsand therefore saved nothin~. . consists riches. it being a settled unmoveableconcern- producing them. then. 320. 34. there is some the impossibility of price fuing the following. Locke describes the laborer as liv- of man. argues that 18. 1deal with Locke's concept of just price and just profit silver is twice as valuable as one ounce). 9/10 arc #heeffects of labour: nay. chanees in a sumlv. . In addition to the above arguments. and they procuring what we want or desire. Interest and Tmde. to the prejudice of trade. 79. See my History ofEconomic Thought (New York: Macmillan. labor cost the natural value of goods. the only measure of the 31. 30. "Gold and silver they must be humored. what in them is different groups in society where the laborer's condi- purely owing to nature. changeability of market price. Properly in the 18th Century. 14. Locke was more circuit more stops. Locke is quite insistent about the relativity and but their quantity. labor" in anticipation of the classical doctrine. Lockeexplicit- "measure of value" at all was in his second essay. he managed lo University Press. 1930) have assumed that Locke had a labor theory of value. In addition to Sewall and Vickers already mentioned and would subsume them under the category of "past (note 2). ~. although both writers under- explam prcc dclcrm~nalwnlolcrably well wilhoul l h ~ s stand this in a moral rather than an analytic sense. 92. James Bonar. analyrlng iheeffecti of asales lax.121. andcast attempt to estimate the average cash balances held by up the several expenses about them. Locke viewed capital goods as intermediate products 19. implying that they Value of Money" (1695) in Several Papers Relaring lo are vew m r .. oavment . p. the context is an nghlly estmxatethmgs as they iamc toour we. 1980). weare asking if he thought the proverishing the landholder whose interest is chiefly to prices of goods were related to the labor that went into be takencare of. "I think it will be but a very modest computation to 27. Among political 17. Ob. "Some Considerations". desires. value of goods as reflected in their money prices. when we ask if Locke believed labor to of trade by that means slarving the laborer. 316. p. (l%9l (New York: Auguslus M. by making modities." compare the economic value of two goods. ~~~. While finding an objective measure of value the cncult which #he money goes. tis evident." p. ". or demand curve and movements along ihai c u n e uas forctgn to Lockr. Chapter 11. SO that the returns must necessarily interested in explaining what determines the economic be slower and scantier. 93. John Locke: Economist and Social Scienlirl.. p. He interprets Locke as saying that labor adds burden of the tax because "he iust lives from hand to t o the intrinsic value of things by making them more mouth alreadv". ex. criticized Locke for calling market price rather than 0. that of the oraducts of the earth useful to the life 28. value of gold and silver used in commerce is nothing 16. that things must be left to find their own price. . value. The mull~plymg money the "common measure" of the value of com. See and it is impossible in this. Chapter 1932). The imphcat~onhcrc is definitely that 22. p. He gives as reason for 24." "Some Considerations". 92. distinction. nor take you commodities for their labor. . Lwkc is (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. p. 120. " ~ o m e ~ ~ o n s ~ d e r a t ~p o42. 20. t h e mode& distinction between Reference lo England and John Locke (Cork: Cork . say. iocke generally treated changes in quantity as shifts in theorists both James Gough. Chapter V. evidence that Locke's paragraph on labor as a measure " . and im- be the measure of value. Philosophy and Political Economy . port his family. and Pascal of price changes on quantity supplied as well. "For there being a want of day-laborers in the country. l%8). l950). Bonar. "Some Considerations". . On p.. we shall tion was such that he spent all of his income between find that in most of them 99/100 are wholly to be but on the account of labor. the only other instance of Locke discussing a laborers lived at subsistence. Social Scientist (forthcoming. what one wanu or reresr and Trade. rf ur wtll ing from "hand to mouth". they eat up too great a share of the gains viously. It seems reasonable to conclude from this passage that Chicago Press. and what to labor. . only by their quantity. imolvinc . Reprinted in Everal Papers Relating to Money. as Larkin. Money. JOHN LOCKE AND THE LABOR THEORY O F VALUE 325 IS. Heargues that "the comes to a similar conclusion with respect to these poor laborer and handicraft man" cannot bear the passages. On p. 23. value of money is its quantity (that is two ounces of 32. constantly-varying proportion and use. While.There is ~ no impltralion lhal (he laborers uerc parlicularly poor 21. . John Locke's Theory of supply although occasionally he described the effects Propeny (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Larkin. On p. which will 25. . Chicago: University of 26. 94. ly uses the term "bare subsistence" to describe the "Further Considerations Concerning Raising The general level of laborers' incomes. etc. always regulate their value. 1922). 111." (p. Hcrealtcr cited as "Somc Considera. Kelley. see Karen Vaughn. larger. pp. In fact. "For they having as money no other Scienlisl.' 29. 314) See also p. this position is also implied by Lewis Haney. not if he wanted to use labor hours to ment in the commonwealth. and therefore in a plenty of them "Some Considerations". 31.only lhal they saved nolhing." Furthermore. I 15. their constant mutability for Laslett's comment on the text of the Second Treatise. human foresight to set rules and bounds to their p. Locke says of at length in my John Locke: Economist and Social gold and silver. Property in the 18th Century with Special one would expect. Philosophy and Polirical Economy." conveniences of life. 51. his waees useful but without making any connection between must rlse proporlionately or hc uill not be able to s u p usefulness and exchange value. P. of value has not come down to us accurately. 66. that the intrinsick tions". On p. In. 21 where he calls n ~ . 37. 34 and p. - that if orices rise. and in thal may have been a concern of Petty's. p. For a fuller treatment of Locke's theory of economic Locke deliberately suppressed the rights of wage labor value. Macpherson.

Polirics ondEconomics and the pro\~sionsthey h a \ e made in their l f e lime.J. That is. . See F. pp. as the "result of human action but "Hence it comes. 225-228. see my John Lmke: Economisl a n d Social . Whatever is beyond this. would describe it. . to argue that current rewards t o the descen- labor fix a property in. argument on childrens' right. A ~ i r r & of ~ c o n o m i cThought same idea (although he is understandably inaccurate in (Englewood Cliffs. Srudies in Philosophy. 18-22. the laborer. as Hayek as far as the conditions of their parents can afford.a the :arc due to t h e ~ rr. vantage of life before it spoils. not only t o a bare sub- 35. p.: 0n. and . efleslr 18 arc to ritcnd as far as posstbly they can. ~ u o t e din Eric Roll. that when their oarents leave the not o f human design". lustration of an institution which arose." (o. note 2. he bases his Trearise. Hayek. understood to be intended as nature requires they 96. Anarchy. Nothine was quires a theory of inheritance. is dants of those who labored in the past arealso just re- mare than his share and belonm to others. visible hand explanation" t o describe essentially the 38. Nozick has mare recently used the term "in. This is a very hasty summary of my interpretation of .h~ldreneeascs. A. 339.t uhcre there is enough. Sfale a n d Ulopiu (New 34.326 KAREN I. VAUGHN 33. p. but to the conveniences and comforts of life. "As much as anyone can make use of to any ad.105. and as Locke's theory of the origin of the state. 308. an institution which uorld.e pried to. 1953). at lka.the arose in a spontaneous but orderly process. sistence. no man but he can have a rieht . Of course. p analysis. pp. Chapter IV. 1974).to what is 36. "For this labor being the unquestionable property of York: Basic Books. Marx's discussion o f Locke is found primarily in his attributing a conventional theory of money to Locke). Here. The origin of money in Locke's system is a good il. Theories o/Surplus Vdue cited above. 225). for their children. For adetailed dood lefl in . so much he may by his 37. See Robert Nozick. should.ommon lor ulhers " Serond Irzurrre. Scienrisr.: Prentice Hall. . 1967). pp. 306. are (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. N. which Lockeprovides in made by God for man to spoil and destroy." ~ & o n d the Firsr Trealise.