[OPE-L:5238] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: one commodity models and illustrations

From: howard engelskirchen (lhengels@igc.org)
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 11:15:56 EST

Duncan writes --

>In general, models always abstract from critical features of reality. 
>The important question is whether the model has enough detail to 
>throw light on the problem it's aimed at. For example, it is very 
>difficult to deal with the relation between c and v in empirical 
>studies of most modern economies because the data is not available at 
>the flow level to measure c. But I don't think that means Marxist 
>economics should just give up on those economies.

Is this assimilation of Marx's methods to a methodologically indifferent
sense of model building correct?  Abstraction is always *from*, but more
importantly for Marx, abstraction is overwhelmingly *to* critical features
of reality.  This is not true of social science generally.  For example,
when we abstract to producers who produce independently for private
exchange or to the separation of workers from the means of production, we
abstract *to* the most critical features of value and capital respectively.
 Similarly value, for example, doesn't abstract from reality to suppose
that in perfect competition the price of a product is homogeneous; instead
it tends to generate that result.  So it's not enough, for Marx's
abstraction, that it has enough detail to shed light on the problem.  For
Marx, the question is whether the abstraction reaches and identifies those
(simpler) aspects of reality essential for understanding how a thing tends
to behave.  


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