[OPE-L:5571] Re: Re: Ockam's Razor

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 13:26:10 EDT

Hello all,

On 14 May 2001, at 9:43, Fred B. Moseley wrote:

> I have not had time to read carefully the interesting discussion of
> Ockam's Razor and value-form theory.  But on a quick reading, I agree with
> Paul C: value-form theory does not have a theory of price or a theory of
> surplus-value (as a quantity).  I don't think Nicky or Geert or Michael
> have responded on this point (please correct me if I am wrong).  I have
> argued the same point on OPEL a while back.

Paul C.'s formulation raises extra issues in that it entails a 
necessary tie between 'prediction' and 'causation'. Fred's 
formulation perhaps raises less additional issues. To elaborate: the 
question to Nicky, Geert and Michael concerns their apparent lack 
of a *theory* of the *quantitative* determination of surplus value. I 
remember the previous discussion on OPEL to which Fred refers. 
The last I remember was Fred reproducing an equation for 
aggregate value added put forward by Geert and Michael:


Y: aggregate value added
m: monetary expression of labour
L: abstract labour time

It seems that, according to value-form theory, Y and mL are on a 
par and *mutually determine* one another. Indeed it maybe that the 
left hand side of the equation dominates the right hand side [if 'form 
determination' is taken in a quantitative as well as qualitative 
sense]. That being so, the *magnitude* of value added is not, in 
any sense, explained by reference to the magnitude of abstract 
labour. Rather, we need further specification of how 'mutual 
determination' occurs before we have a quantitative 
theory/explanation at all. 

At the same time I accept that value form theory can be (and in 
fact is) very useful despite the apparant fact that it does not have a 
quantitative theory of surplus value.

Can we all agree on this?

Can we also agree that a theory which *both* reconstructs the 
qualitative characteristics *and* theorises the quantitative 
determination of surplus value (and other economic magnitudes) is 
desirable (if such a theory is possible)? For, the magnitudes of 
profits, wages, interest and rent are *extremely* important in our 
society. Imo, the lack any general theory of these magnitudes 
*severely* limits the scope of any social theory, therefore. 

Fred mentions that his own theory (interpretation of Marx) attempts 
such a quantitative and qualitative enterprise. 

At least on my grasp of it, the work of Fine and 'followers' of Fine 
also develops such a two-fold grasp of the CMP (though it does it 
in a different way to Fred).

Furthermore, the work of Fred and of Fine has the merit of 
*including* the necessity of money, the importance of the 
appearance form of value, even as it emphasises that the 
substance of value is abstract labour. Thus it does not fall foul of 
the charge that it ignores or plays down the importance of form (in, 
say, a Ricardian fashion).

At any rate, Fine's stuff would seem worthy of more attention in 
debates on value, given the above.

Best wishes,


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