[OPE-L:3401] Re: Gil's criticisms

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu Jun 01 2000 - 09:16:57 EDT

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On Tue, 30 May 2000 bhandari@princeton.edu wrote:

> Again I don't think we can say that the labor theory of value is
> logically derived in volume 1. It is proposed, hypothesized; it can
> only be verified to the extent that it can make sense of evident
> anomalies and explain the actual course of capitalist develdopment.
> And this is not done in Part 1.

Rakesh, I agree with you that Marx's argument in Chapter 1 does not
provide an "air-tight" logical proof that prices can only be explained by
values. I would say rather that it provides a strong argument why this is
a plausible assumption, if one analyzes prices from an objective
perspective. But other theories of prices, based on different
perspectives (e.g. subjective preferences) are certainly possible.

I also agree that the ultimate criterion on the basis of which a choice
between alternative theories should be made is some type of empirical
criterion, a comparison of explanatory power (which is of course easier
said than done). Again, my paper in response to Blaug is the type of
empirical assessment that I have in mind. I also think that this is what
Marx had in mind when he said in a letter (July 11, 1868):

"even if there were no chapter on `value' in my book, the analysis of the
real relations which I give would contain the proof and demonstration of
the real value relations. All that palaver about the necessity of proving
the concept of value comes from complete ignorance both of the subject
dealt with and of scientific method." (Selected Correspondence, p. 196)

Rakesh, I also agree with you in (#3371) that Chapters 5 and 6 do not
prove that the exploitation theory of surplus-value is the only theory
possible. Rather, Marx is logically developing his theory of
surplus-value on the basis of his theory of value, as derived in Chapter
1. The relative validity of Marx's theory again depends on its relative
explanatory power.

But I would also argue that there are no logical errors in Chapters 5 and
6, of the sort that Gil has suggested. If the labor theory of value is
valid, then the conclusions that Marx derives from it in Chapters 5 and 6
are also valid. Marx's logic is indeed "air-tight" in Chapters 5 and 6
(although it is not a proof that this is the only possible theory of

Thanks for your comments.


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