Fred, you now claim that Chs. 6 and 9 of _Capital_ III are about two different profit rates, determined in two different ways. I must say I find this claim shocking and, frankly, preposterous. The methodological flaws that led you to this strange deduction, and similar flaws, were what impelled me to write "The Need for a Genuinely *Empirical* Criterion of Decidability Among Interpretations" last year. So what I'm about to say will not be new. Unfortunately, it has been almost a year since I wrote that paper in reply to yours, and you have not responded to it. You will have an opportunity to do so next Friday, when I will talk about "How to Decide Among Interpretations" on the same panel on which you'll be speaking. Likewise, you have not responded to the continuing requests during these last five years for some NUMERICAL RESULTS of your interpretation that would allow us to assess whether what you say about it is true or false -- more on the need for falsifiability below. Your latest post (OPE-L 4908) is a classic example of what Lakatos called an "immunizing" strategy, a means of protecting one's theory (or here, interpretation) from falsification. The paradigmatic case is that, when confronted with astronomical evidence which contradicted their theory that the earth is the center of the universe, the Ptolemaists added epicycles rather than admit the basic theory was false. The new epicycles "overcame" the contradiction between the evidence and their theory, but in a totally ad hoc, unacceptable, special-pleading kind of way. You have done the same thing in the past, and again now. Remember how your attempt to discredit the TSSI failed when I produced incontrovertible evidence that Marx held that the amount of revenue could exceed the mass of surplus-value? I say that the evidence was incontrovertible because you did not try to controvert it. Instead, what you did was to immunize your interpretation against falsification. Rather than just admit that you had been wrong, you invented a third definition of revenue. That was an immunizing strategy because the sole function of this "third definition" was to shield your interpretation from falsification. It just "overcame" the contradiction between the evidence and your interpretation in an hoc way. It added an epicycle. Remember my paper, "The Determination of Value in Marx, and in Bortkiewiczian Theory"? I presented a whole slew of textual evidence that demonstrated that Marx consistently held that the sum of value transferred from means of production to the product depends on the cost of these means of production when they enter production. You did not attempt to controvert the evidence. Instead, in order not to admit that your interpretation has been wrong all along, you immunized it against falsification. You claimed that these passages exclude cases in which technology changes, because Marx didn't explicitly say that such cases were included. This was another immunizing strategy meant to shield your interpretation against evidence that falsifies it, another epicycle. You have done the exact same thing now. You are faced with evidence that Marx held that, when (market) prices change, the rate of profit and thus production prices also change. Once again, the evidence is incontrovertible -- you do not try to controvert it and indeed this time you found it yourself. What you have done instead is to immunize yourself against falsification. Rather than just admitting that you have been wrong all along about the determinants of production prices, you invent a second rate of profit!: "Therefore, the rate of profit that is discussed in this chapter and that may be affected by a change of market prices is a more concrete rate of profit than the general rate of profit that determines prices of production in Volume 3 of Capital. The general rate of profit that determines prices of production is a more abstract rate of profit that is not affected by changes of market prices, as we have seen above." This is an immunizing strategy. The sole function of this second rate of profit is to shield your interpretation from falsification. You have just added another epicycle. The way you try to put it over is by means of the tried-and-true "levels of abstraction" stuff. As I have said in the past, "levels of abstraction" is no term of Marx's. When I hear it, I always check to see that my wallet hasn't been lifted. But even the "levels of abstraction" methodology requires a *wee bit* of discipline in argument. To employ it, what comes before must be more abstract, and what comes after must be more concrete. NOT the reverse. But your assertion reverses it. Your "concrete" profit rate is discussed in Chapter 6 of Vol. III; your "abstract" profit rate is discussed in Ch. 9. Stick to this and your whole interpretation, based on Marx's "logical method," falls to the ground. As you know, in Diogenes-like fashion, I have been asking you and other physicalists a simple question: "Under what conditions would you be willing to concede that your interpretation is incorrect?" Those who cannot answer it are guilty of dogmatism. No evidence, no argument, is sufficient to get them to change their minds. They know they are right, and they can keep adding epicycles which ensure that the fact that they are wrong is never proven, at least not to *their* satisfaction. That sucks. Now I know that you *thought* you had answered my question. You said you'd concede if you were confronted with new textual evidence that contradicts your interpretation. This perhaps sounds good at first, but, as I pointed out, it is really a pseudo-condition. That's because you didn't provide the information that the question in fact asks for -- the conditions under which you'd be willing to concede that the new textual evidence does in fact contradict your interpretation. As we see from the above, there seem to be no conditions under which you're willing to concede that. There seems to be no evidence that you will accept as providing a *definitive test* of the validity of your interpretation. Confronted with falsifying evidence, you have again and again employed immunizing strategies in order to disqualify the evidence and thereby to shield your interpretation from falsification. You write that "The general rate of profit that determines prices of production is a more abstract rate of profit that is not affected by changes of market prices, as we have seen above." No, you showed no such thing. What you actually did was just interpret a few passages. According to YOUR interpretation, the passages suggest that the rate of profit referred to in Part 2 of Vol. III isn't affected by changes in market prices. But how do you TEST that interpretation? There is the rub. Do you test your interpretation against other textual evidence? That's what you said you would do. You answered my methodological challenge by saying that, if other evidence contradicts your interpretation, you would concede that you had been wrong. But you have NOT done that. When confronted with this other evidence, from Ch. 6, you have NOT conceded that your interpretation is incorrect. Instead, you have chosen to disqualify the evidence by inventing another epicycle -- a second profit rate that exists solely to try to patch up your interpretation. You are not using the evidence to test your interpretation. You are using your interpretation as a test of the evidence, i.e., as a way of determining the meaning and admissibility of the evidence. That is backwards. Please propose a *definitive*, *evidentiary* test of the validity of your interpretation. In the absence of such a test, I do not "look forward to further discussion." WHAT'S THE POINT OF FURTHER "DISCUSSION," IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE "RIGHT" NO MATTER WHAT? Andrew ("Drewk") Kliman Dept. of Social Sciences Pace University Pleasantville, NY 10570 USA phone: (914) 773-3968 fax: (914) 773-3951 Home: 60 W. 76th St. #4E New York, NY 10023 USA "The practice of philosophy is itself theoretical. It is the critique that measures the individual existence by the essence, the particular reality by the Idea."
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