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Confronting Foster's Wildest Claim: "Only the Instrumental Theory of Value Can Be Applied!"

Baldwin Ranson
Journal of Economic Issues
Vol. 42, No. 2, Papers from the 2008 AFEE Meeting (Jun., 2008), pp. 537-544
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25511339
Page Count: 8
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Confronting Foster's Wildest Claim: "Only the Instrumental Theory of Value Can Be Applied!"
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Abstract

The Instrumental criterion of judgment - in vulgar terms, "what works" - is universally recognized as applicable to and appropriate for answering questions about means for achieving given practical ends. Few accept it as appropriate for choosing means to moral or ethical ends, and even fewer accept it as appropriate for choosing all ends as well as all means. Such is Foster's position, carefully expounded in his newly available lecture notes on value theory. This paper rebuts critics, tries to clarify the meaning of Foster's theory, establishes the grounds on which it rests, and argues for its accuracy and usefulness.

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