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价值的悖论

The paradox of value - Akshita Agarwal

假设有一档有奖竞猜节目 你可以从钻石和一瓶
Imagine you’re on a game show, and you can choose between two prizes:
水水这两个奖项
a diamond
中任选一个
or a bottle of water.
这之间的选择会十分容易
It’s an easy choice.
显而易见 钻石的价值要高于水
The diamonds are clearly more valuable.
现在设想你面临同样的抉择
Now imagine being given the same choice again,
只不过这一次你不是在有奖竞猜节目中
only this time, you’re not on a game show,
而是在沙漠中漫步数日 严重缺水
but dehydrated in the desert after wandering for days.
你的选择会有所不同吗?
Do you choose differently?
这又是因为什么呢? 钻石的价值难道不是仍旧高于水吗?
Why? Aren’t diamonds still more valuable?
这就是著名的价值悖谬
This is the paradox of value,
最先由经济学先驱亚当·斯密提出
famously described by pioneering economist Adam Smith.
它告诉我们 确定价值其实并不像看上去那么简单
And what it tells us is that defining value is not as simple as it seems.
在有奖竞猜中 你所想的是物品的交换价值
On the game show, you were thinking about each item’s exchange value,
也就是你之后能从中获得的价值
what you could obtain for them at a later time,
但是在生死关头 比如沙漠场景
but in an emergency, like the desert scenario,
它们的使用价值更为重要
what matters far more is their use value,
就是对你现在所处的情形有多大帮助
how helpful they are in your current situation.
因为我们只能从中选择一种
And because we only get to choose one of the options,
我们也要考虑它们的机会成本
we also have to consider its opportunity cost,
也就是如果我们选择另外一种需要损失的东西
or what we lose by giving up the other choice.
归根结底 卖掉钻石能得到什么并不重要
After all, it doesn’t matter how much you could get from selling the diamond
如果你根本就没有办法走出沙漠
if you never make it out of the desert.
大多数现代经济学家 尝试使用效用这个概念
Most modern economists deal with the paradox of value
也就是物品满足人们需求的程度
by attempting to unify these considerations
一致化给出的选择
under the concept of utility,
通过这种办法讨论价值谬论
how well something satisfies a person’s wants or needs.
效用可以用来讨论任何事情 从基本的对食物的需求
Utility can apply to anything from the basic need for food
到听喜爱的音乐带来的快乐
to the pleasure of hearing a favorite song,
并且自然而然地会因为人物和情境有所不同
and will naturally vary for different people and circumstances.
市场效用为我们提供了一种监测效用的简便方式
A market economy provides us with an easy way to track utility.
简单来说 一件物品的效用是由
Put simply, the utility something has to you
你愿意为它支付的价值来反映的
is reflected by how much you’d be willing to pay for it.
现在假设你回到了沙漠
Now, imagine yourself back in the desert,
只不过这一次每五分钟 你就被提供一颗新的钻石或者
only this time, you get offered a new diamond or a fresh bottle of water
一瓶新的水 如果你像大多数人一样
every five minutes.
你会先选择足够自己旅程的水
If you’re like most people, you’ll first choose enough water to last the trip,
接下来选择尽可能多的钻石
and then as many diamonds as you can carry.
这是因为边际效用
This is because of something called marginal utility,
它的意思是 在对钻石和水进行权衡时
and it means that when you choose between diamonds and water,
你把每多一瓶水得到的效用
you compare utility obtained from every additional bottle of water
和每多一颗钻石得到的效用进行比较
to every additional diamond.
每提供一次水和钻石 你就会做一次这样的比较
And you do this each time an offer is made.
第一瓶水对你来说比多少钻石都要重要
The first bottle of water is worth more to you than any amount of diamonds,
最终你会得到足够的水
but eventually, you have all the water you need.
一段时间后 每多一瓶水都变成了一个负担
After a while, every additional bottle becomes a burden.
那时候你就开始选择钻石 而不是水
That’s when you begin to choose diamonds over water.
这不仅仅适用于必需品 比如水
And it’s not just necessities like water.
对于大多数物品
When it comes to most things, the more of it you acquire,
得到的越多每一单位增加的有用或者享受程度就会减少一些
the less useful or enjoyable every additional bit becomes.
这就是边际效用递减规律
This is the law of diminishing marginal utility.
你可能会很乐意购买两份或者三份最喜欢的食物
You might gladly buy two or three helpings of your favorite food,
但是第四份就会使你不舒服
but the fourth would make you nauseated,
第一百份大概会在你吃到之前就已经变质了
and the hundredth would spoil before you could even get to it.
或者你可以花钱去看同一场电影直到看腻了
Or you could pay to see the same movie over and over until you got bored of it
或者是花光了所有钱
or spent all of your money.
不管是选择哪一种 你最终都会到达
Either way, you’d eventually reach a point
购买另一张电影票的边际效用为零的那个点
where the marginal utility for buying another movie ticket became zero.
效用不仅仅是关于买东西 更是关于我们做出的所有决定
Utility applies not just to buying things, but to all our decisions.
一个简单的办法来最大化效用并避免递减的收益
And the intuitive way to maximize it and avoid diminishing returns
是不断改变我们花费时间和资源的方式
is to vary the way we spend our time and resources.
在满足基本需求之后
After our basic needs are met,
理论上我们会决定只投资 对我们有帮助或者
we’d theoretically decide to invest in choices
会带来愉悦的商品数量 当然
only to the point they’re useful or enjoyable.
我们中的每个人在现实生活中会通过怎样的办法来最大化效用
Of course, how effectively any of us manage to maximize utility in real life
就是另一回事了
is another matter.
但是重要的一点是 价值的最终来源是我们
But it helps to remember that the ultimate source of value comes from us,
我们共享的需求
the needs we share,
我们享受的东西
the things we enjoy,
以及我们做出的决定
and the choices we make.

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