[OPE-L:5583] explanatory power

From: Geert Reuten (reuten@fee.uva.nl)
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 15:39:51 EDT

Re: Jerry Levy [5582]

>Fred argues [[5569]] that his perspective is preferable to
>VFT  "because it has greater explanatory power."
>How are we to judge, though, which theory has
>greater explanatory power?
>To answer that question, we must first ask:
>what does each theory attempt to explain?
>Here I think there is an area of agreement between
>Fred's LET (labor embodied theory) and VFT:
>both have as their subject matter and seek to
>explain the 'object-totality'  of the bourgeois
>epoch -- capitalism.  In other words, both seek
>to explain the same object (capitalism). Thus,
>should we not then judge each theory on its
>explanatory power regarding capitalism?
>Fred says that because his LET interpretation
   explains both concepts and quantities, it is to
>be preferred to VFT. Thus Fred reckons "the
>score" to be:
>LET-Fred    -- 2
>VFT             --1
>Thus Fred wins "on points", it would seem.

"Explain" is an ambiguous term (but I am not a specialist in English!). 
Sometimes it is used in the traditional methodological sense (1). It is 
also used in the  rather more vague sense of  'setting out' (2). More 
specifically it may also mean 'setting out the systemic interconnections' 
(3). (1) and (3) may have things in common though they are surely not the same.
I do not agree that LET has greater explanatory power than VFT in either of 
the senses (1) or (3).
For (1) we need to indicate what we want to explain in the empirical 
domain. If it is market prices then indeed these are not the object of 
enquiry about which VFT has much new to say. However, for scoring here 
(Jerry's 2 to 1),  LET would have to be able to explain market prices 
beyond mere assertion.
For (3), even if we restrict to the "economic" domain (Jerry went beyond 
that in the remainder of his post) VFT does better to the extent that it 
consistently takes account of the double character of capitalist society 
(physical entities and monetary entities and their interrelation). First, 
in "value theory pure"; second in the theorisation of the credit system and 
monetary institutions; third in the theory of economic development 
(theories of cyclical development).


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