Frédéric Bastiat discusses (English) several prior notions of value—shows real deficiencies in each—and then introduces his own. His notion is not simple and I will not try to capture it here.

The first question I see is “What is the goal of defining ‘value’?”. Some such notion is necessary for most economic theories but different theories may require subtly different notions of value. Another goal is to capture the intuitive force behind such exclamations as “I want that!”. The latter exclamation may suggests some evolved notion of property recently described nicely by David Friedmann. I explore here a value notion that ‘bottoms out’ in “I want that!” which presumably means “I want to have that” which presumes some notion of ‘having’ which relates to the notion of property.

Some communist writers, perhaps with too much physics envy, have sought a value notion that would ascribe a value to a thing much as physics ascribes mass to a marble. Such a notion would perhaps hold in a universe devoid of life. Many of the notions mentioned by Bastiat are along these lines.