Michael Benedikt's C.V.

Published articles by Michael Benedikt available on-line

 

Go To Chapters 1- 5.

CHAPTER SIX:
NEED, VALUE, and TIME

How do different goods yield their value to us over time, or at different times? Is there any system to it all? Are there any laws or rules of thumb? Economists claim there are, and chief among them is the law of diminishing marginal utility. In this chapter we look into this "law" and try to enrich it with our theory of value.

I. Satisfaction and Social Complexity
190
Although the stratigraphy shows that needs are satisfied from bottom to top, in real life the process of satisfying needs is a more complex, risky, and opportunistic affair. This is because the world in which the process takes place is complex. The hallmark of a developing society is the ever higher level of mental and behavioral complexity-and-organization it demands from its members (and institutions) in order for needs to be better met. Goods too become increasingly complex-and-organized, and thus able to yield higher levels of satisfaction. Indeed, I suggest that internalized complexity-and-organization is what "satisfaction" is.


II. Two Models of the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility (LDMU)
193
Philosophical economists of the 19th century thought it self-evident that, all else being equal, the marginal utility (or increment of satisfaction) yielded by a given unit good depended on the neediness of the person wanting it. Since such neediness would diminish with every act of consumption, so to would the good's marginal utility. The insight remains central to economic theory to this day. The question for us is: is it accurate? Can we shed light on when and why it might not be?

    The shortfall model
195
    Here, the "mechanism" behind LDMU is described as the decreasing distance (shortfall) between the level of satisfaction a person currently feels and the maximum level of satisfaction they know (or imagine) could possibly be reached. The latter is subject to cultural influence, as is the acceptable minimum level of satisfaction.

    The dissipation model
200
    Here, the "mechanism" behind LDMU is described as the cumulative effect of successive "doses" of satisfaction, each of which mounts and then dissipates away, like a wave. On this model too, satisfaction (utility) grows ever more slowly with continued consumption, even though the dose provided by each unit good remains constant.

    The shortfall and dissipation models compared
204
    Each has its descriptive strengths and weaknesses. The shortfall model is teleological. It is sensitive to ends and purposes that, on approach, can turn out to be chimerical. It also points out valuation's susceptibility to changing images of perfect satisfaction. The dissipation model, on the other hand, "knows" only that this is good and more of it would be better (when maybe it would not be). Some categories of goods are more easily modeled, and therefore valued, by one method than by the other. In everyday life, though, we (wisely) try to use both models in assessing the value of the same good: one as a check of, and check on, the other.

    The immediacy effect
206
    Why do people regularly choose the nearer (in time) or two promised goods, almost regardless of the satisfaction they would yield? Five related explanations are offered. One is based on the dissipation model, suggesting that pleasure might be valued more highly than satisfaction. The fifth explanation, however, introduces the concept of plenitude. I define the plenitude (of a life) as the total amount of satisfaction felt over its entire length. The mandate "maximize plenitude" seems to underlie all five explanations of the immediacy effect. It also underlies other effects I discuss.


III. Value and Satisfaction Across Many Needs
217
The picture complicates when different needs must be met simultaneously, or the availability of goods is such that decisions must be made as to which need to address. The six needs have different intrinsic weights and "trumping power." Some rational way to compare their value is required, as well as a way to calculate trade-offs, so that total satisfaction (or plenitude) can be maximized. I show how these calculations might be done. Important to rational behavior is that one's "need-state" be "well balanced." Several behavioral and even cultural pathologies become explicable using this idea. Among them is akrasia.

    Akrasia: weakness of will
221
    Unlike the immediacy effect, which describes impulsive behavior, akrasia describes compulsive behavior, i.e., knowingly, helplessly, taking actions that are in direct conflict with what we say we want and value. With unbalanced need states inner conflict is common, caused to some degree by the pressure we all feel to seem motivated only by higher needs. What appears to others as weakness of will—a form of ignobility—occurs when lower needs win out, as they naturally tend to do.

    Incommensurability
224
    Some argue that what explains akrasia is that the value of different classes of goods are incommensurable-i.e., cannot be measured on the same scale and therefore cannot logically be compared in value. I largely reject this interpreation in favor of the view that although all good shave varying substitutability for each other, the single dimension on which they call all be valued and compared is their contribution to plenitude. This does not eliminate all moral problems or conflicts, but then neither does the doctrine of incommensurability.


IV. Climactic and Other Satisfactions
226
Not all goods obey the law of diminishing marginal utility (LDMU). I discern four categories of goods that for one reason or another disobey LDMU. All can be characterized by the shortfall or dissipation models—with some or other critical parameter modified.

    Climactic Goods
226
    Prime among members of this category are goods (tokens, acts, gestures, gifts) associated with the satisfaction of sexual desire. But related are: goods that are pursued against deadlines, goods that offer some "edge" in competitive win-lose contexts, goods that require continuous investment of effort before they can be obtained, and goods that complete some set or series. All increase in value as a threshold is neared, an interpretation favored by the shortfall model, but the dissipation model sheds light on the mechanisms involved too.

    Goods That Keep Giving
230
    These are goods that are alive or growing in some way, that store a great deal of information or that trigger or give access to information, or that can be used to produce other goods. In one or more ways, all goods that keep giving are capital goods. They are best understood by the dissipation model

    (Goods that involve) Goals That Keep Receding
231
    These are goods that raise the bar of enough-satisfaction the more we enjoy and know about them. Highly complex-and-organized at several scales, they induce connoisseurship, which in turn induces producers to pursue greater heights. Such goods help stimulate qualitative economic growth. They are best modeled by the shortfall model.

    Salted Peanuts: Addictions
234
    Similar to the prior type in many ways, addictive goods go further, inducing withdrawal, dependence, intoxication, and decreasing sensitivity to the good's effects in their users. I give addictive goods special attention not only because they represent a serious social problem, but because the dissipation model offers what might be a new way to understand, and then counteract, certain addictive behaviors.




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CHAPTER SEVEN:
THE LOGIC OF EXCHANGE

I. Value, Economic Value, and the Purview of Economics
243
Some say that scientific, aesthetic, sentimental, moral, and economic value(s) are independent and incommensurable. In disagreeing, I nonetheless single out economic value as different to the others. "Economic" is a second-order modifier of all the other kinds of value, one whose role, conventionally, is to apply to the subset of all valued things that can also be bought and sold in a marketplace. I argue that this way of thinking about economic value limits economics' purview as a discipline unduly. I define economic value instead as that which accrues to anything that has value to us for whatever reason and that requires "in exchange" some effort, risk, loss, or sacrifice in order to produce, obtain, or maintain. On this view, decision-making can be economic whether or not it involves marketplaces, other people, or money.

    Is there escape from the economic realm?
248
    I argue that there is no escape from the economic realm as defined. All things of value are obtained at some effort, risk, loss, or sacrifice (though it might be someone else's). We long to be free of economics and economic calculation, and create special times and places where they are suspended. Yet even this "suspension" is the result of economic thinking: it is the wish to reduce the burdens of obligation, computation, forethought, and regret, while experiencing greater plenitude. If only temporarily.


II. Two-Party Exchange
252
Given the inescapability of some degree of economic logic in human affairs, it becomes important to examine the idea of fairness in exchange. I argue that fair exchanges between two people (or institutions) happen when both parties experience equal happiness as a result. The value of a fair exchange as a whole is thus twice the value of its value to each party (and often more). But, I ask, how is fairness judged? And by whom?

    The question of fairness and obligations
253
    That two parties make an exchange voluntarily does not indicate that the exchange is fair. Most exchanges are neither fair nor voluntary. I argue that they need they be neither, however, if obligations are acknowledged and reparative exchanges are undertaken that increase the complexity-and-organization of social life. Indeed, awaiting complete voluntariness on every occasion, or negotiating to perfect fairness, would be socially destructive.

    The pleasure of others and the value of giving
256
    I draw on the idea that involuntary resonance with the psychological state of others is an evolutionarily adaptive trait. Psychoeconomically speaking, it is how the happiness (or unhappiness) caused and shown by the reception of a good becomes, itself, a component of the value experienced by the party who provided the good, and thus of the exchange as a whole. The effect is usually catalytic of further exchanges, especially if their value has been positive.

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    Asymmetries in fairness and obligations.
259
    A more careful analysis yields further insight: first, into the tactical uses of "love" to gain advantage in exchange, and second, into problems of enforceability of obligations in the face of unequal vulnerability to uncertain future events. I show how these asymmetries together explain how capital ownership, bargaining power, and legal authority reinforce each other and accumulate unevenly in certain individual and occupations.

    The complexity of judging fairness
265
    Given the myriad ways of constructing a fair exchange involving a single pair of goods, simplification seems necessary. Alternatively, it is possible that we actually grasp the full complexity of exchange but deny that we understand it. In either event, to aid in understanding, I sort exchanges into five "domains:" gift, barter, commercial, financial, and political. Knowing which domain is operative is crucial to success. We realize that the fairness of an exchange does not imply its legality. The experience of value can also be bluffed. I look at problems arising from bluffing the disutility of work.

    Quasi-fairness and the value of fairness itself.
273
    The value of fairness itself can become a variable. When fairness is valued differently by each party, many unfair exchanges suddenly become acceptable: they become "quasi-fair." Disvaluing fairness characterizes relations between paternalists and martyrs, and between sadists and masochists. I describe how such individuals seek each other out, or find individuals who strongly discount "the whole fairness issue," and I make the claim that these relations are more common than supposed.


III. The Net Value of an Exchange
279
    Many fair exchanges are of net negative value, and many unfair exchanges are of net positive value. Given the category of quasi-fairness, I develop a taxonomy of six types of exchange. These can be arranged in descending order of net value, from fair and positive ones to unfair and negative ones. An economic decision is always made as to whether improving the net value of a proposed exchange is worth the effort. However, when one takes the view that social complexity-and-organization (W) is a good in its own right, then the scales tilt towards assuming that efforts at optimizing exchange are likely to be worthwhile, even if they must, ultimately, be cut short.

    When the goods exchanged are living things
284
    Economics assumes that goods themselves have no interest in where they end up, or with whom. This cannot hold when the good is a living creature, be it a professional football player, a child up for adoption, or a pet. The question becomes more than casually interesting in the context of arguments for environmental conservation, animal rights, and so on. In this section, I try to incorporate these factors into our model of exchange.

    On the value of inanimate objects.
287
    Not just living things but certain valued objects, such as significant works of art, can be said to have a rightful interest in their ownership and whereabouts. When these goods enter the marketplace, they do so in more complex-and-organized ways than do commodities. I argue that an expanded ethics of care for both natural and artifactual objects of beauty would serve the cause of economic progress.


IV. "Exchange Value" Examined, and a Foray Into Understanding Money
290
"Exchange value" is a 19th century term often contrasted with utility or use-value. I look at what this distinction consists in. Money is said to have only exchange value. This is not quite right since exchangeability is money's use-value. I show how one might quantify exchangeability as such: it is a function of the number of ways it can be spent in a given market. Thus, the concept of "buying power" combines the value of what a sum of money can buy (its value-in-exchange) with the number of ways it can be spent at all (its exchangeability or exchange-value). I conjecture that the satisfaction provided by spending a given sum of money in a marketplace depends, all else being equal, on the preference/probability distribution over all the thought-possible combinations of ways to spend it there. I suggest that distributions with high Wmight be best.

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CHAPTER EIGHT:
THE NATURE OF MARKETS

I. Defining a Market
295
"Markets" are more or less public venues for the simultaneous, choiceful, non-coercive exchange of goods among many competing individuals. This leads to questions as to whether there are markets in tokens. I suggest that there are, and give some examples. Indeed, the economy that these markets help create—the psychological economy, or economy of tokens—might be just as important as the conventional economy with which it interacts, involving the exchange of material goods and services. To see more deeply into the matter, however, one needs to study just how markets work and to what extent theorizing about them depends on idealizations.


II. The Ideal Market
298
The ideal market is a useful abstraction. Operating without brokers, it depends on being large enough that no single seller or buyer can set a market-wide price. It depends on goods and buyers and sellers being closely substitutable for each other; it depends on full and free information being available to all parties, and it depends on the existence of unambiguous property rights, legally supported currencies, and enforceable rules of fair exchange. No actual market is ideal. The non-idealness of actual markets is seized upon by market critics as a reason for more institutional control and by market enthusiasts as a reason for less. I explain how both are right and both are wrong. Neither side sees the effects of psychoeconomic factors on such sacrosanct "laws" as the law of supply and demand. I suggest that a more complex and nuanced basic model of the market is called for..


III. Market Exchange: a New Basic Model
308
Since many factors go into setting the price of a good in a marketplace, our model, unlike the standard model in economics, conceives of price as the "dependent variable" from the outset. I sketch four broad categories of independent variables: costs, competition, value, and income (or wealth) distribution. How they affect market prices can then can be examined from two perspectives: that of the producer-seller and that of the consumer-buyer.

    The producer- seller's perspective
312
    To a first approximation, the price a producer-seller can ask for her goods depends on her costs of production and on the relative strength of between-seller and between-buyer competition. In our model, the latter factor is cast as the ratio of the degree of organization of the potential buyers (Rbuyers) to the degree of organization of the category of goods in question (Rgoods), as modified by the degree of match (m) between what potential buyers want and the goods of sale offer. Manipulating these variables yields insight into many actual market behaviors and provides several pointers for a seller to improve his or her position.

    The consumer- buyer's perspective
323
    The price a potential consumer-buyer offers to pay for a good depends on how much he values the good, on his income or wealth, and on his costs of finding, buying, bringing home, and using the good. Because of differences between buyers, the first two factors operate across ranges that can be systematically described. As goods "move" across these ranges of valuation and income, they sort themselves into "normal," "inferior," and "superior" goods—categories familiar to economists but re-examined through my new market model.

    Combining the producer-seller's and the consumer-buyer's perspective
327
    The law of supply and demand is subsumed as marketwide equilibrium or "going" prices come into being at the intersection of our two perspectives, which is to say, around the uncoerced agreement as to a good's money price by buyer and seller. Nonetheless, producer-sellers and consumer-buyers continue to try to position themselves differently in the marketplace and to exert what pressures they can on each other's perceptions, a point I investigate using our model's variables.

    Two-party exchange and fairness: a reprise
331
    Looking more carefully at the anatomy of a single exchange, I show that agreement as to money price does not guarantee that a market exchange is fair (as defined in Chapter Seven as: equal in value to both parties). We recall that an exchange can be unfair even if no coercion is involved and even when the value the exchange as a whole is positive. This is partly because fairness itself can be valued differently by different parties (yielding what I called "quasi-fairness"), but it is also because, when money is involved and is taken to be the neutral and sole metric of value it is not, the impression of fairness can be given publicly while allowing quasi-fairness or plain unfairness actually to be the case. Why do we acquiesce to the discrepancy? In order to allow money to fulfill its larger purpose, which is to lend markets the efficiency they need to function at all and to provide the wealth of choice that they do. A highly "marketized" society is thus one in which money is the token that conveys freedom best. It is also, very likely, one in which mutual benefit is a higher priority than perfecting fairness.



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CHAPTER NINE:
THE MEANINGS OF MONEY

The chapter opens with some assertions and some questions about our feelings towards money. Is the love of money the root of all evil? How did money become so powerful? What is it about merchants that bothers us? Why are some goods cheapened by being for sale, and others not? Is money something different to the gambler and the investor, to the rich person and to the poor one? Some conventional wisdom about money is presented in terms that connect standard economic theory to our theory of value. This serves to open up a discussion of money that might answer our questions.

I. The Resellable Good
340
Goods, by type, can be arrayed on a spectrum of their resellability. Money is the ultimate resellable good. Trash or waste lies at the other extreme. In the middle of the spectrum lie "hybrid goods:" goods that we use and enjoy and that have some resale value (e.g. cars and houses). Most capital goods are hybrid goods too. Interesting is how hybrid goods induce ambiguity into how they are properly to be valued, an ambiguity that extends to the value(s) of consumption and production per se. Her our W theory of value sheds some light by providing grounds for comparison, and an argument for correctness in balance.

    Traders, middlemen, and merchants.
344
    Although what they produce is the marketplace itself, the value of traders, middlemen, and merchants to society has often been underestimated. I discuss why disquiet over the role, and sometimes the person, of the trader/middleman/merchant persists.

    The value of hybrid goods
346
    Many hybrid goods are valued less for their direct contribution to life-enjoyment than for their future resale value. This can have a deleterious effect on the quality of their design and the quality of life they engender. Developer-built "homes" are a case in point. To determine how to prevent this effect require a deeper look at how goods evolve (and de-evolve) over time.

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II. Gresham's Law
349
"Bad money drives out good money." This is Gresham's Law. Although it is avowedly about money, Gresham's Law can shed light on the evolution and de-evolution of all goods that are bought and sold. I suggest that money itself is the fruit of Gresham's Law: the de-evolution of a once material and complex good with several qualities and uses to an all-but-immaterial cipher offering nothing but perfect exchangeability. I discuss why this development is salutary for money but deleterious for most other goods by tracing Gresham's Law basis in...

    The logic of efficacy
353
    Most goods have a far greater number of qualities and possible uses than those for which they are commonly valued. In a market economy, qualities that are not valued and yet are costly to produce or purvey tend to be eliminated. The idea is to produce only what is appreciated and will be paid for. I discuss how and why this tendency has unfortunate and de-evolutionary effects on several categories of goods. I contrast this marketplace logic to the model of biological evolution, and suggest that we would do well to learn from nature if greater complexity-and-organization everywhere is our goal. (Which it ought to be.)


III. On Money and its Meanings
364
More than any other good, money multiplies the number of possibilities for trade. This, plus money's Gresham-acquired physical lightness, is what makes money the token that bestows freedom so well, and ever better as the extent of the market grows and more of anything anyone might want can be found for sale to anyone who might want it.

    Qualms (the usual...)
364
    The freedom money grants is not well-founded when lower needs have not been met. Monetary freedom that is poorly founded attracts sycophants and blackmailers. Nor is all money earned money deserved. There is often a complete separation between where, how, and from whom money is earned and where, how, and for whom it is spent. And there are important things that money cannot buy, such as respect as a parent, artist, athlete, leader, or scholar. That said, one wonders why and...

    How money becomes the dominant token.
366
    Most tokens are fleet, light, and made for exchange. Money is exemplary in this way. But it is also one of the very few tokens whose total supply is controlled by the state. Most socially-exchanged tokens can be privately "printed," and so tying them to money helps social convention hold down token-inflation. I argue nonetheless that the chief reason money dominates is that it lies at the (current) end of an evolutionary trend which has tokens higher on the stratigraphy acting as proxies for tokens lower on it. The moral success of such "proxification" depends on token-trade satisfying lower needs becoming both more complex and more routine over time.

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    A measure of organization: money shaped, marked, and packaged
369
    Money is usually conveyed with "strings" attached—i.e. with obligations as to its proper uses. Wages are not tips; royalties are not donations or taxes. Divided into "sums," money is most often budgeted. These constraints allow money and non-money tokens to intermix, and, in so doing, to both organize the "freedom"—really the chaos—that a record-less, cash-only society would bring about, and to encourage it to reach ever higher levels of W.

    Money to the poor
374
    In highly "marketized" societies, money does not begin to give real freedom until it is enough money. For the poor, constraints having to do with preference or propriety are overruled by constraints having to do with necessity. Under enormous pressure to save money, the money-poor are also subject to many unnecessary and further freedom-robbing practices, from limited consumer choice to usurious interest rates and endless waiting in lines.

    Money to the rich.
380
    The freedom of the rich is also limited—but by Nature, law, time, and the imagination, not (the lack of) money. So what to do with the excess? Philanthropy is an option. More common is setting out to achieve ultimate satisfaction of the lower needs. Perfect legitimacy and universal approval are often the focus of such efforts, but neither are to be had without considerable rationalization and self-doubt. Alternatively, the rich can invest their money in other people's enterprises: a way to exercise one's freedom and to contribute to economic development by selling some freedom to others.

    Some observations on gambling and investing
384
    Gamblers too test the limits of their freedom by making risky "investment" decisions. In a society wary of commitment, infatuated by freedom, and unable to comprehend the changing nature of work, gambling becomes an easy way for some to challenge their fate...or lose everything. Both investor and gambler understand that there is no freedom without risk. Both are committed to money as that which earns more money. But the investor bets on the House.


IV. Gresham accepted, Gresham reversed
388
When a good de-evolves to minimum complexity and maximum single-function efficiency, it may or may not be a bad thing. It can be a good thing if the complexity-and-organization of society as a whole is increased by that de-evolution. This was the case with money itself, and with most of the goods that became commodities without significant loss of complexity-derived quality. Some goods, however, become more complex, sophisticated, expensive, and multi-functional with every generation of production, and this under the same market pressures that affect all goods. How can this happen? I argue that there are limited number of (related) ways: One way is through establishing communities of connoisseurs that do not regard the resellability of the good as central to its value. Another is through construing the good as one that defies the law of diminishing marginal utility (as studied in Chapter Six). Another is through appealing to historical snobbism, preferably sans elitism based on wealth. Another is through deploying technological innovations that increase (or lower) the price of the good more slowly (or faster) than consumers expect it to increase (or decrease). And finally, there is adjusting the stratum of need the good addresses, up or down, but usually better down. I argue that all of these ways of reversing Gresham's Law are important not only to defending certain long-evolved and complex goods from market forces, but also to increasing the complexity-and-organization of goods, jobs, laws, and practices of all kinds.




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CHAPTER TEN:
PROGRESS: TOWARDS A VALUE ETHICS

I. Economic Growth, Development, and Progress.
402
Growth, development, and progress are terms in the language of economics that usefully combine evolutionary theory with moral concerns such as value and justice. I argue that economic progress is progress because of the way in which it increases the degree of complexity-and-organization (W) of the environment in which people must think and act. A significant source of this complexity-and-organization is the ingenuity demanded by commitment to the principle of "no harm without the consent of the to-be-harmed." This is what distinguishes progress from development and mere growth.

    Suite 1: Reasons for increases in the general price level.
406
    Economic development and progress are always accompanied by a general increase in wages and prices. I argue that there two distinct reasons for this, inflation and (economic) evolution. While economists focus on the first, we are interested in the second. Critical are issues of justice, as described above, but also the responses to population growth, the need for new token economies, and the rising taste for luxuries.

    Suite 2: Using our market model to describe general price level changes
413
    Here the equations developed in Chapter Eight are revisited to show how many of the arguments given so far can be abstractly represented.

    Suite 3: The complexity-evolution argument more closely
415
    Focusing on the variable "market power" (rm), I show how competition between sellers for the attentions of increasingly-spoiled consumers is a major driver of complexity-based economic evolution as well as of the general increase in prices and wages. This kind of "inflation" is good.


II. Towards a Value Ethics
422
In the matter of reducing poverty, injustice, crime, hatred, and meaninglessness, perhaps the most socially useful statement that can be derived from this book's theory of value is the aphorism: "the love of simplicity-and-disorganization is the root of all evil." Here "love" means "strong and persistent preference." Simplicity-and-disorganization is the opposite of complexity-and-organization, , the W increase of which is life's purpose.

    The problem of uneven innate limits of human capability.
424
    Not every person, and not every social system, can deal with the degree of complexity-and-organization required of them to thrive. The moral question becomes how to deal with the mismatch. Dumbing down the social and physical environment is one option, and is morally defensible in certain cases. But it is second-best to increasing the person (or system's) capacity for handling higher levels of W. Only a commitment to the latter—one that abjures coercion (but not persuasion)—can prevent descent into fascism or anarchy. The issue becomes more pressing as globalization continues. Six recommendations follow:

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    1. Education
431
    The argument for the centrality of a liberal education is made again, with emphasis on the problem of pacing and timing to avoid discouragement and rejection of the program.

    2. Welcoming the "complications" of the no-harm principle
433
    The virtues of efficiency, simplicity, and freedom ought not be accepted at face value. They are only half the story. In particular, the inefficiencies, complications, and constraints involved in following the no-harm principle must be embraced. In the long run they benefit all, including those who value efficiency, simplicity, and freedom.

    3. Dealing with addictions
434
    In providing refuge on the one hand, and temporary performance enhancement on the other, addictions to drugs, alcohol, and even television, can be a form of non-coping with environing complexity-and-organization. It becomes important that we understand addiction's origins, which, insofar as they are neurological and cultural, might lie in the imbalance between feelings of satisfaction and feelings of pleasure. If this hypothesis is correct, then new salience is given to cultural strategies that promote the appreciation of nature, other people, and the fruits of civilization, and to strategies that match individual capacities to social roles that satisfy all needs at whatever absolute level of W is achieved, as discussed in Chapter Six.

    4. Supporting the token economy
437
    Money has so become the dominant token that we overlook the economic system that trades in other tokens. These tokens account for social bonds as well as non-market freedoms. One sees again why money should be taken out of politics on the electoral side, but also how valuable would be governmental support—monetary, legal, and physical—for purely social occasions in which token trade in non-money tokens is intensified. One good that all people produce is the sight of their happiness. Witnessing this on television is not good enough. Needed are shared goods: spaces and occasions for mutual influence and appreciation in the flesh. Enter architecture.

    5. Extending rights to animals
440
    With Gary Francione, I argue that we should extend to animals the right not to be treated as human property. Although this would do away with a number of industries and jobs, not to mention change our diets, I argue that the effect of "animal liberation" (as it is sometimes called) on economic development as well as economic and moral progress would be substantial and positive.
    6. Towards a value ethics: optimizing circles of concern and influence.
442
    This book has for the most part looked to utilitarianism for an ethical framework. Here I explore a few ways that utilitarianism might be modified or transformed into a system one might call value ethics: a complete view of how we should behave in order to maximize the plenitude of all lives on earth, including our own. Each of us has around us a circle of concern and a circle of influence. Ideally these two circles coincide in size and membership, but in real life they do not. I explore the consequences of this, and of the persistent effects of propinquity on our levels of concern and influence. In the face of the complexity revealed, new techniques of analysis are called for. I suggest that the field of research called "artificial societies" holds out promise for studying experimentally the evolution of ethical principles as well as the likely effects, in real populations, of their combination and distribution. I submit that our theory of value as the increase in life's complexity-and-organization, W , can supply the consistent background of such studies, as well as useful pathways of connection to other disciplines.




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CODA:
THE VALUE OF ARCHITECTURE

This Coda applies our general theory of value to a particular problem, namely, the dispiriting condition and indifferent design of large swaths of the American environment. I argue that turning the requisite attention to this problem would result in more than just "beautification" or improved sustainability. It would generate a surge of economic growth and progress equal to the one caused by the confluence of communication, computation, and entertainment technologies in the closing decades of the 20th century. Essential to this happy scenario's unfolding is a better understanding of the value of architecture, which has long played an important but underestimated role in increasing life's plenitude.

I. The Problem
458
I present empirical data that suggest that 98% of the buildings in America—desultory in design, hasty in execution, and unlovely to look at—are built either without an architect or with an architect interested only in meeting his or her client's short-run investment goals and minimum legal and engineering standards. I then present further data that show that the portion of the (U.S.) GDP accounted for by civilian building construction has diminished considerably since 1945, this even though the number of square feet built per year has gone up. To some, this indicates a laudable gain in the productivity of the construction industry. I suggest, rather, that it indicates the diminished value of the built environment as a "product" towards which it is worth directing time and money. In the larger picture, that is, architecture is an inferior good.

One of the reasons for this lies in architectural history. I recount the circumstances under which Modernism arose in the early 20th century in the heart of Europe to become the standard "style" and mode of construction it is today around the world, and I discuss how the economic motives of developers, landlords, and taxing authorities helped it proliferate in spite of people's preferences. I show how architects themselves have been complicit all along, through holding on to dated ideologies and working methods. At fault, chiefly, is architects' acquiescence to impoverished "engineering" definitions of functionality and efficiency. At fault too is architects' unwise and unwarranted belief in the redemptive power of their own creativity.


II. Eighteen Proposals for Revaluing Architecture
476
Many books and articles are published each year addressing how American society and values are changing due to market globalization, demographic shifts, new technologies, natural resource depletion and the like. Conspicuously absent from the discussion among public intellectuals is the effect on, and of, architecture, except indirectly in occasional broadsides against sprawl. I take this as another sign of how little understood and how little valued is architecture, this though everywhere our lives depend on it, and though much of the pleasure we derive from life is inside of, and from, places that have been designed for that purpose. The problem seems to be that what architecture does, and how it has value, remains a mystery.

The remainder of this chapter addresses how the revaluation of architecture might proceed, first through coming to better understanding of how architecture satisfies human needs (as schematized in Chapter Four), and then (drawing on Chapters Five though Ten) through adopting some new strategies for competing with other goods in the marketplace and polis. Throughout, I address not only fellow architects, planners, designers, urbanists, and writers on such subjects, but everyone who has an interest in making a healthier, more just, more prosperous, and more beautiful world through acting upon the physical environment.

My proposals fall into in four groups.

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Group I: Proposals that would help persuade more people to value the quality
of the built environment more highly.
    Proposal 1. Addressing more needs in thought and deed.
481
    People's everyday surroundings form the stable background of their lives, and are thus largely ignored. To see the environment as a figure, one must have intentions that it obstructs, allows, or promotes; one must feel needs that it frustrates, serves, or awakens. I argue that although college-level courses in architectural history and "architectural appreciation" have some value in directing attention towards the finer points of design, they do not convey the multidimensional subtlety of the ways that all buildings affect us. If people are to value architecture more highly, then a way of talking about architecture must be developed that is not art-historical or commercial but, rather, that engages all human needs and possibilities as directly as possible. I offer the outline of how this mode of discourse—this "way of talking"—might go, using as a basis the six needs identified in Chapter Four, namely, survival, security, legitimacy, approval, confidence, and freedom. Each need suggests a different approach.

    Proposal 2. Raising the standards of necessary and sufficient satisfaction.
492
    Having made some progress in conveying how richly architecture satisfies needs, the task becomes persuading people to want more from architecture in these terms, and more from architects—who in turn must ask more from themselves. In this section I concentrate on strategies of public persuasion based on the analysis of "force" presented in Chapter Five, and on the analysis of goods that defy the law of diminishing marginal utility, presented in Chapter Six.

      Persuasion using example
494
      Persuasion using encouragement
495
      Persuasion using flattery
496
      Construing architecture as a climactic good
498
      Construing architecture as a gift that keeps giving
499
      Construing architecture as a goal that keeps receding
501
      Construing architecture as an addictive good
502


    Proposal 3. Combatting "place machismo."
 

504

    There is a persistent strain in American culture that judges sensitivity-to-place to be a weakness. Because that "weakness" is associated with femininity, I call the virtue of insensitivity to place "place machismo." In this section, I delve into the origins of place machismo and challenge its claim to be a virtue outside of the most dire circumstances. I criticize the large number of American public high schools, designed since the mid-1960s on the model (it would seem) of minimum-security prisons, for cultivating place machismo in two generations of Americans—and thus for desensitizing a whole population to the value of place. I conclude with some suggestions at to how to improve school design and how to make sensitivity to place in American culture something "cool."


    Proposal 4. Seeing architecture as always a public good.
507
    Most buildings in America are privately owned. But the effects of buildings overflow the legal boundaries of their sites. All buildings, that is, are public goods to some degree: payed for by some but enjoyed (or suffered) by many. To serve as a theoretical framework for dealing with this fact, I sketch out the idea of buildings as information fields, and examine the property rights people might have in those fields. I then explore how the public-good nature of architecture might be handled by the marketplace in a dynamic way instead of leaving it up to regulation by public authority.

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    Proposal 5. Seeing buildings in the "experience economy" as the primary preservers and standard-bearers of our sense of reality
513
    Post-industrial economies are becoming increasingly involved in the production and consumption of experiences. I argue that although architecture can join in this trend—and has a long history of creating special atmospheres and "experiences"—the one experience that architecture (along with nature) could specialize in offering as it becomes rarer is "the direct aesthetic experience of the real." In our media-soaked environment, this experience can be transformative, and hence of immense value. I offer a way to conceptualize an architecture whose central quality is being real, this through having presence, significance, materiality, and 'emptiness.' I discuss how enlightened developers might capitalize on our desires for such experiences.



Group II: Proposals that would reform certain of the attitudes, beliefs,
and practices of architects.
    Proposal 6. Reclaiming the science of architectural phenomena.
519
      Throughout the 20th century, architects ceded much of what was technical and quantifiable about architecture to the engineering professions. I argue that this division of labor in fact left large areas of knowledge about architecture's subtle effects untended, ultimately undermining architects' claims for the value of design. I urge architects to revive their interest in the science of "architectural phenomena," not just in order to enrich their design palette but to revalue their art at a time when quantifiability is an important guarantor of economic value.


    Proposal 7. Using computers not to simplify design and streamline production but to
    complexify design and organize construction.
521
    Most architecture firms use computers as they are conventionally used in business and industry, i.e., to increase labor productivity while eliminating what buyers don't notice or need from the product. This trend puts architecture's value in great danger. In this section I urge architects to take the higher road, one that so far only a few have taken, namely, to use the power of computing to create and manage greater complexity in their product, with stronger and more fluid connections to the construction process.


    Proposal 8. Downplaying creativity.
523
    While creativity is essential to being an architect, I argue that pride in creativity is a distraction from more important issues and values. I show how pride in creativity is deleterious to the quality of the built environment and how it weakens the bargaining power of architects when arguing for their designs with business people, civic officials, and engineers.


    Proposal 9. Rethinking the role of "environmental determinism."
526
    Many things influence human feelings and behavior, the physical environment being one of them. The question is: what proportion belongs to the physical environment, and how strong is the influence? In the 1970s, psychologists and sociologists interested in the topic quickly conceded that the influence was minor and hard to measure. I argue that they were too quick to concede. People are influenced by what they want to be influenced by, and can sensitize (or desensitize) themselves to almost anything. Why not to architecture? The complexity involved is so great that we need fear no loss of freedom by opening ourselves to the idea that we are not only who we are, but also where we are.


    Proposal 10. Adjusting architectural education.
528
    Architecture, like literature, is a complex pleasure best appreciated by people who have tried to produce it. The case for it must be made anew with each generation. In this section I make several recommendations, ranging from increasing undergraduate enrolment to architecture schools, and giving a full studio-based education there, to laying the groundwork for Proposals 6, 7, and 8.


    Proposal 11. Inviting and tolerating more debate.
531
    For all that one can find fault with in architectural education, one of its strengths is its tradition of supporting earnest critique and debate of current architecture. This dwindles in architectural practice, professional meetings of the AIA and mainstream architectural press coverage notwithstanding. I suggest how the schools could do more to keep the debate going once students leave school for practice.


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Group III: Proposals that would emend some of the contractual and market relationships
that presently obtain between architects and others.
    Proposal 12. Making the market for architecture more, or possibly less, "ideal."
533
    I examine the market for architectural services for "ideality" as defined in Chapter Eight, as well as the market for real estate. Both come up wanting. The question is, is this a bad thing? Are buildings commodities? Market forces have eroded architect's fees and left realtor-broker fees intact. I conclude that trust in professionalism, and on market regulation by the state, can and should be minimized if and only if people's willingness and ability to exercise quality-discriminations are at the same time maximized. I argue that the real estate market would benefit by approaching ideality more closely, and point to online property listing and mortgage brokering as a step in this direction. Greater transparency in the auction system is also called for.


    Proposal 13. Making the architectural services more affordable.
539
    "More affordable" here does not mean cheaper. It means easier to pay for, and easier to see the reason for paying for. I examine how bank lending practices determine whether or not "architecture pays," and how the answer differs for residential and commercial properties. Certified appraisers operate at a critical juncture in the process, and could make a significant contribution to its evolution. I then examine the formulae by which most architects are contractually paid, namely, as a percentage of construction cost, and comment on its drawbacks. I discuss various alternatives, like risk-sharing and royalty-based systems, and conclude by proposing a modified percentage-of-construction-cost contract that realigns owner-client and architect's incentives, called the "Tilted-L Fee Contract".



Group IV: Proposals for new legislation and/or financing methods that would help bring
about better buildings and environs for all.
    Proposal 14. A sprawl tax.
544
    As the name implies, this is a tax levied by the city on property owners, the aim of which is to discourage sprawl and encourage denser, more efficient use of land closer to the city's center. The idea is to apply a multiplier to the typical, flat-rate property tax—which simply tracks the property market values. This multiplier might vary rise from 0.5 at the city center to 2.5 at periphery.


    Proposal 15. A ticky-tacky tax.
546
    Here the municipality keeps track of average per-square-foot construction costs for different building types (and their associated landscaping) in the city, reducing property taxes on those projects that exceed the average, and raising taxes on those that fall below the average. I discuss likely outcomes and problems in implementation.


    Proposal 16. Dampening real-estate speculation.
549
    Drawing on the analysis of resale offered in Chapter Nine, I argue that architecture should not be allowed to become a capital good only, to anyone. Specifically, I suggest prohibiting owners from selling their property if they owe more than 33% of its purchase price to a lender. Alternatively, or in addition, one might set a minimum time period of such ownership before resale is legal.


    Proposal 17. Encouraging "extended investment."
550
    Extended investing means tying part of one's return on investment (ROI) to what would normally be called that investment's externalities. After elaborating what this means more fully, I propose an entirely new way to invest in, and raise capital for, architecture—a new form of market that combines elements of the securities market with a neighbor-based scheme of property rights co-ownership: micro-REITs.


    Proposal 18. Legislating historical continuity.
553
    Statutes that prohibit demolition in general—except in certain cases—go beyond those that already protect demolition historically significant structures. They encourage historical continuity in the environment through incorporation of the past into the present and future. This complexity-and-organization-increasing strategy follows the example of the evolution of common law and of DNA as discussed in Chapters One through Three (although in this case "architectural DNA"). It can also enrich the design of new buildings on undeveloped land. The Uniform Building Code (UBC) is a critical but overlooked part of this process.

    With human and natural history thus incorporated, with the UBC revised, and with more than a few of the seventeen other proposals in this Coda adopted, a Renaissance for architecture would surely take root—as it might well for society as a whole.


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