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Subjective means, among other things:

  • Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
  • Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

Subjectivity is judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts.[1]

Subjectivity of value

There is no way to measure an increase or decrease in happiness or satisfaction; not only between different people, it is not possible to measure change in the happiness of one given person.

In order for any measure­ment to be possible, there must be an eternally fixed and objec­tively given unit with which other units may be compared. There is no such objective unit in the field of human valuation. The in­dividual must determine subjectively for himself whether he is better or worse off as a result of any change. His preference can only be expressed in terms of simple choice, or rank. Thus, he can say, "I am better off" or "I am happier" because he went to a concert instead of playing bridge (or "I will be better off" for going to the concert), but it would be completely meaningless for him to try to assign units to his preference and say, "I am two and a half times happier because of this choice than I would have been play­ing bridge." Two and a half times what? There is no possible unit of happiness that can be used for purposes of comparison and, hence, of addition or multiplication. Therefore, values cannot be measured; values or utilities cannot be added, subtracted, or mul­tiplied. They can only be ranked as better or worse. A man may know that he is or will be happier or less happy, but not by "how much".

Accordingly, the numbers by which ends are ranked on value scales are ordinal, not cardinal, numbers. Ordinal numbers are only ranked; they cannot be subject to the processes of measurement. Thus, in the above example, all we can say is that going to a concert is valued more than playing bridge, and either of these is valued more than watching the game. We cannot say that going to a concert is valued “twice as much” as watching the game; the numbers two and four cannot be subject to processes of addition, multiplication, etc.[2]

"Value is a judgment economizing men make about the importance of the goods at their disposal for the maintenance of their lives and well-being. Hence value does not exist outside the consciousness of men."[3]


  1. TheFreeDictionary "subjectivity - definition of subjectivity by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.", referenced 2011-11-23.
  2. Murray N. Rothbard. "A. Ends and Values", 5. Further Implications, Man, Economy and State, online version, referenced 2009-05-12.
  3. Carl Menger. "1. The Nature and Origin of Value", Principles of Economics online edition, Chapter III., The Theory of Value, referenced 2009-05-14.