Resolving the enigma of what is called market isolation—how the activities of agents who are strangers to one another, as neoclassical theory supposes, come to be reliably coordinated—depends on recognizing value as the fundamental principle of market activity. Labor and utility theories of value both conceive of it as an objective magnitude that preexists market exchange. This basic assumption, called the substance hypothesis, underlies both the orthodox refusal to acknowledge the role of money and the undervaluing of exchange itself. How order is traditionally imagined to emerge from disorder is discussed, together with the Marxian concept of the fetishism of the commodity. Finally, the singular status of economics in relation to the other social sciences, which emphasize the role of subjective judgment in determining value, is insisted upon.
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