Subjective preferences and alternative costs
William Barnett () and
Walter E. Block ()
Additional contact information
William Barnett: Loyola University
Walter E. Block: Loyola University
The Journal of Philosophical Economics, 2013, vol. 6, issue 2
The present paper is an exploration of the economics of subjectivism and opportunity or alternative costs. Most contemporary economists pay lip service to these concepts, but when push comes to shove, all too often they jettison them. We shall illustrate this lapse from basic economics with a challenge that has been perplexing several modern economists: why do people always walk on staircases, but only sometimes on escalators. Landsburg (2002) misunderstood the reason people only sometimes walk on escalators, whereas they always walk on stairs. Garrison (2009) tackled the same problem, with somewhat different results. Both of them, however, are guilty of a failure to use what is perhaps the most fundamental concept in the economist’s toolkit – opportunity cost, known to an immense number of non-economists by the aphorism ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ This oversight resulted in his (their) failure to explain why people only sometimes walk on escalators, in contradistinction to the fact that they always walk on staircases.
Keywords: indifference; opportunity costs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B50 D01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:bus:jphile:v:6:y:2013:i:2:n:2
Access Statistics for this article
The Journal of Philosophical Economics is currently edited by Valentin Cojanu
More articles in The Journal of Philosophical Economics from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics Contact information at EDIRC.
Series data maintained by Valentin Cojanu ().