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My standard is to assume any activity lots of people voluntarily choose to engage in is valuable to those people, unless we have a compelling reason to assume otherwise. Failing to understand where the value comes from is not a compelling reason. This is not 'trivially easy to fulfill'--it is only fulfilled by those activities people choose to engage in. It's intended to apply to humans rather than insects, but in fact I'm happy to accept the conclusion that shit is valuable to flies.

What exactly is your standard? To make a personal object-level assessment of the value of something excluding evidence based on revealed preferences? Are you personally calculating the nutritional value of an apple against the costs of labor and land to determine if growing apples is productive?

"it is very hard to pinpoint what goes wrong when a financial instrument fails to do its function"
Yes, finance is complicated. That doesn't justify concluding that it's unproductive.






You are saying that if we don't know how the thing works we should assume that it is valuable. I would say that the question remains open rather that the affirmative be the default. If we go by this principle if we start eating foods other than apples we should assume them healthy unless otherwise proved. Thus whena new designer drug which effects are unknown hits the streets and sells like cupcakes we should assume it is healhty or atleast positively impacts its users.

For the question "Whether X provides real value?" To be interesting the answer should sometimes be affirmative and sometimes negative based on X. Usually we are not interested on the real valuableness on things we don't do. Even when limited to things we do, some should still be negatives. Otherwise we can say that "everything we do is really valuable there is no such thing as fake value".

Real value is more complicated than economical value. It doesn't easily accept to single numbers and absolute values. Some people do economically inferior things to attain some of the intangible values. Things like self-expression can be estimated on the shadow they leave on the economics. However things like self-discovery can remain irrelevant to economics. Things like deciding whether to and on what subject to write a wikipedia article is somewhat clunky to model in terms of economics. At the end of the day we must whether this institution "money" is worth the effort and that clearly can't be answer in monetary terms.
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Fwiffo
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