[OPE-L:5567] Re: William of Ockam's Razor and Political Economy

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 08:40:37 EDT

Re Paul C's [[5561]:

> There are certain unchanging regularities, -
> commodities are produced every year. Labour is
> performed every year. Commodities are sold
> every year. Wages are paid every year. These
> provide us with the data to test general theorems
> about the relationships between the prices that
> commodities are sold for and for instance the
> wages that were paid to make them.
> What is the difficulty with this?

Yes, there are regularities within a mode of
production. Yet, are these regularities
unchanging in the same sense in which we can
refer by observation to unchanging natural
regularities in astronomy?  One can be able to
predict *with precision*  such questions as
the height and declination of heavenly bodies in
relation to particular observation points at
particular times on Earth. For example, one can be
able to predict precisely -- to the minute -- what
time sunrise and sunset will occur in different
latitudes and longitudes on Earth.  *That* 
degree of regularity is not to be found in the
developmental tendencies of capitalism.

Let us consider this question more: what are
the variables that can stop the Sun from rising
or setting as predicted? Not many are there?
(perhaps a super-nova or a degradation of the
Earth's orbit?.) Within political economy, we
can't be able to subject theorems to such tests
both because of the quantity of variables
concerned and the fact that the 'observers' can
also alter the outcome.  Unlike physicists, we
can not put two objects in a vacuum to observe
-- and test -- their relationship to each other.
Instead, the c.p. assumption is used to clear the
'clutter' caused by other variables. Yet, we
can never forget that the conclusions that we
come to with the c.p. assumption are
*conditional*  and *tentative* in a way in which
conclusions that we come to through vacuum
testing are not.

In solidarity, Jerry

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