[OPE-L:5526] Re: William of Ockam's Razor and Political Economy

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Wed May 09 2001 - 17:16:46 EDT

Re Paul C's [5510;5524]:

>From [5510]:

> The application of Minimum Description Length
> Theory to the labour theory of value is addressed
> in my and Allin's paper 'The scientific status of
> the Labour  theory of Value', see:
>  (snip, JL) The paper attempts to measure the
> formula above,
> or a simple derivation of it for
> 1. The simple labour theory of value
> 2. Sraffas formulation of price of production
> theory
> 3. The TSS theory of prices
> All theorems were used to predict the final price > vector  in the US
input output table. Our
> conclusion was that  MDL principle resulted in
> the classical labour theory of value
> being the most elegant.
> We did not evaluate value form theory in this
> comparison.
> As I understand it the value form theory makes
> no predictions

In [5524] you added that VFT was simpler, but
it is "... too simple, in that it made no predictions
about prices at all".

It is not at all clear to many why we should
incorporate within a critique of capitalism a
predictive model of [market] price behavior.

Of those mentioned above and in this thread,
I see the following division (I'll use your

o  political-economic theories should
    incorporate a predictive theory of price
        -- the simple labour theory of value;
        -- Sraffa's formulation of price of
                production theory.
o political-economic theory does not require,
   nor should it include, a predictive theory
   of price behavior:
         -- Value-Form theories;
         --  The TSS theory of prices.

(Note: I don't think that it is accurate to speak
of a "TSS theory of prices". I think this rests
on a mis-interpretation of the purpose and
meaning of the TSSI. Relatedly, I don't think
that Marx had a predictive theory of price
either. Indeed, I think this was not one of his
concerns. Of course, if I am wrong in this
assessment of TSS, then John E or someone
else should correct me.)

So ... I guess the question becomes: is it
a merit for a theory of capitalism to have a
predictive theory of price?

I think that VFT, at least, would answer "No."
You  suggest another answer in the following:

> A theory of prices or a theory of climate allows > us to  predict what
> prices or climate would be
> like if circumstances
> changed in some way. Post hoc observations
> whilst
> being cheaper in information content, provide no > similar
> way of comparing alternative possibilities.

As I understand it, price and value only appear
post hoc according to VFT.  Here they clearly
distance themselves, I think, from TSS.
Yet, is this a failing of VFT or is it a 
a recognition of the unity of the processes of
capitalist production and circulation within the
capitalist system? In other words, is the 'fault'
with VFT or is it a 'fault' of capitalism?

More generally, I think it is fair to ask what
role predictive models _should_ have (or
should _not_ have) within political-economic

An odd thought occurs to me: in their rejection
of predictive models, Hegelian-Marxism (in one
of its guises as VFT) and Althusserian-Marxism
(through the doctrine of over-determination) are
in agreement. Rare indeed!

So, I'm not convinced that it is a merit to have
a predictive theory of price. BUT, if a theory
_does_ have such a component, then I think
it is fair to judge the theory in part by the
accuracy of its predictions.  AND, since there
is a claim that one theory has superior powers
in terms of explaining empirical matters, then
it is fair to put such a theory to the TEST by
asking that theory TO PREDICT price behavior
and then compare the ex ante predictions with
the ex post prices.  This leads me to ask: what
does your predictive theory of price tell you
about what will happen in the next 6 months
and year in the UK and the US economies?

Isn't that a fair question?

In solidarity, Jerry

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