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This is a reply to Geert's (2296) on 29 January. Geert, thanks
a lot for your post.
1. Geert has agreed that the equation
Y = m L
is to be interpreted that Y IS DETERMINED BY mL
("reading DETERMINATION from right to left";
In order for Y to be determined by mL in this equation, then
it is a logical necessity that mL must itself be DETERMINED INDEPENDENTLY
of Y (in other words, mL must be determined EXOGENOUSLY of this
2. As I understand it, if Y is to be determined by this equation, then
there are two logical options for the independent determination of mL:
(1) mL is determined as a function of some other variable(s) (which are
independent of Y), as expressed in some other equation(s). mL is then
taken as given in the above equation for the determination of Y.
(2) mL is not explained further and is simply taken as given in the above
If there are other logical options for the determination of mL
independently of Y, please explain them to me.
3. So I ask: how is mL determined, according to your interpretation of
VF theory? If option (1), then what is your equation (or equations) that
determine mL by other independent variables? Or, is mL in effect just
taken as given (option 2)?
4. You suggest that I would not be happy with option (2). But that is
not true. I would be happy with either answer, at least for now. I would
just like to know which one it is. If it is option (2), then your theory
of the magnitude of value added would be incomplete, in ways similar to
Marx's theory. But at least there would be a beginning of a theory of the
magnitude of value added.
My main point here is that there are these two logical options available
and there are no other options.
5. You say: "effectively mLi can be MEASURED only in the
market" (emphasis added)?
What precisely do you mean by "MEASURED only in the market?"
That mLi can be OBSERVED only through market prices (i.e. as value
added)? But I am not talking about the OBSERVABLE MEASURE of mL. I am
talking about the THEORETICAL DETERMINATION of mL. mL cannot be
DETERMINED BY value added on the market, because ml is supposed to
DETERMINE value added.
6. You also say: "I have indicated how one GETS TO mL."
Again, what precisely do you mean by "GETS TO mL"?
MEASURE (or OBSERVE) mL? Or DETERMINE mL?
7. You also say: "As I explained in my 1993 paper, in order to GET TO
your's and Marx's reduction coefficients, you need the market."
I have the same questions as above: What precisely do you mean by "GET
TO"? MEASURE (or OBSERVE) or DETERMINE?
As I have said, I am concerned with the latter question of determination,
not the former question of observable measure. The reduction coefficients
may indeed be observable only in terms of value added, but these reduction
coefficients cannot be determined by value added, because these reduction
coefficients are supposed to partly determine value added and hence must
be determined independently of value added.
In your (1993) paper that you cite, it sounds to me like you are talking
about an EMPRICAL MEASURE of abstract labor. You say:
"I think [Marx's] simplifying abstraction (assumption) [that all labor is
simple labor] makes a quantitative procedure at the empirical level of
adding up concrete pre-market hours very dubious.
[This simplifying assumption] does not get us to the empirical level.
For that we need a procedure to quantify the discounting coefficients.
It is hard to see how this can be done prior to the market." (pp. 97-98)
This seems to be saying that, in order to have an empirical measure of
abstract labor, one needs market prices. But again, I am not talking
about the observable form of appearance of abstract labor. I am talking
about the determination of abstract labor independently of this form of
8. I will discuss further my interpretation of Marx's determination of L
and m, as you (and Mike and Riccardo) have requested, as soon as time
permits, but first I would like to clarify further these points about
value-form theory, which has been the main focus of this discussion.
Geert, thanks again for the stimulating discussion (continuing a long
discussion and making some progress, I think). I look forward very much
to its continuation.
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