The criterion used to make that determination is the one identified by Ludwig von Mises. Value judgments that can be based on quantitative economic calculations fall into the category of economics.
To the materialist a literal interpretation of this criterion removes the ethical foundation of economic relationships and although in some instances such an interpretation may not bias the analysis it nevertheless truncates the science of economics by removing a very important and essential aspect of economics. It can be likened to a body without the spirit.
For example, consider all the peach vendors in a city. Let’s assume that they all have the same quality of peaches (say they all get their peaches from the same orchard) and let’s assume that they all charge the same price (the vendors know that the people in the city have traditionally paid that price and that the culture of this particular city is traditional and conservative).
Now let’s say that one of the vendors is different from the others. He (or she) is friendly in a way that is very appealing. He (or she) cares about those who buy his peaches and this friendliness is readily perceived by those who buy peaches from him.
The economic result is the same as if this vendor had lower prices and it is exactly the same as having higher quality! The value judgment is preference of ‘a’ compared to ’b.’
Materialists may balk at this but as such they are really ego-driven interpreters who cannot see beyond the object and as a result try to remove the essential ethics from economics.
The divine economy theory identifies both the ego-driven interventionists and the ego-driven interpreters as impediments to the prosperity that is part of our ever-advancing civilization.
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