[OPE-L:5752] Re: the infinite quantity of logically plausible social theories theorem (IQLPSTT)

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Sat Jun 02 2001 - 21:20:21 EDT

Re Andy's [5750]:

> Re the notion of 'infinite logically plausible
> theories': What do you  mean by 'logically
> plausible'? This is a very curious phrase.

Hi Andy.
I agree it's a curious and awkward phrase. What
I meant was a set of possible social theories which
(to use expressions you also used earlier in your
post) have the sole common characteristic that
they are all 'logically coherent' when considered
'by the standards of analytical logic'.

Note that there is no requirement for the 'logically
plausible social theories' to have any relevance to
the contemporary real world  for the species homo
sapiens on the planet of Earth. I would include in
this set Walrasian theory which is 'internally
consistent' in its own terms but (as Steve K might
say) is 'bunk' because its characteristics are of
some hypothetical economy which bears no
necessary relation to a specifically capitalist
economy. Thus no matter how 'logical' it is, it
is essentially 'humbug' (or perhaps more
generously, bad science fiction.)  Other
logically coherent social theories could be
developed for the "Planet of the Air Eaters"
where the 'worker' humanoids live on air!  
While these theories also can be logically 
coherent theories, these defining characteristics 
mean that they can not then be applied to a 
completely different social structure (e.g. the 
capitalist mode of production on the planet 

The important point is that *no matter how
internally consistent a social theory is*,  it must
still pass (from a materialist perspective) a
"relevancy test".  _One_ "relevancy test", if the
object is to comprehend capitalism as a
historically specific mode of production,  has
to do with the *SPECIFICATION* of the
theory.  If, for example, essential, defining
characteristics of this mode of production are
not specified as internal characteristics of the
theory, then it must be *rejected* no matter how
'logically consistent' it is. E.g. if a theory which
purports to be descriptive of capitalism has no
classes, then this constitutes a sufficient reason
for its rejection. (Actually, I think that Blaug
was making a similar point in the sharp critique of
neo-neo-classical theory that Steve K reproduced
in  5740.)  The Marxian conception of truth, 
therefore, as Alejandro VB I   believe correctly
points out  in [5749] is practice (this is, after all, a
consequence of a materialist interpretation of

> Re discussing more concrete things: What you
> say is fair enough
> but I think the reason that abstract issues (eg
> TP) are discussed is
> because they have massive implications for more > concrete work.

They _might_ have important ('massive')
implications for analyzing more concrete subjects,
but I don't think that there is much (any?)
evidence to show that that is 'the reason' these
abstract issues are discussed at length.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: thanks to Gary, Allin, Steve K, Rakesh
(and others off-list) who have wished me (a
somewhat premature) 'Bon Voyage'.

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