[OPE-L:5789] Re: cause(s) and consequence(s) of the Marxist 'obsession'

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 06:01:44 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Re the history of the debate, and indeed the current debate, on 
value, TP, etc: You suggest that the justification has 
overwhelmingly been on some sort of defensive grounds, *rather 
than* on more positive grounds. This is too simplistic because this 
negative, defensive aspect this does not *exclude* a second, 
positive, aspect that drives defenders (and indeed critics) of Marx's 
value theory, viz. the view that getting the abstract value theory 
right has massive implications for more concrete work. This 
*second* aspect must be *the* ultimate justification and drive of 
value debates for there would be little of scientific merit otherwise.

The point is one about abstraction. The most abstract and 
fundamental reason for debate is the positive one. This can be 
seen by imagining a world where there was no need for defensive 
justification. In such a world one would still end up debating the 
abstract stuff because of its importance. On the other hand, if we 
imagine a world where there was no practical relevance to value 
theory then there would be no practical point in defending Marx on 

I do recognise that some (many, perhaps) contributors to the 
debate have *explicitly denied* that 'practical relevance' is their 
prime concern. To this I would point out that the explicit 
justifications scientists give for their work need not be in line with 
the true justification implicit. So the *significance* of what you refer 
to as 'manifest evidence', viz., the accounts of scientists 
themselves, is not so 'manifest' at all, it cannot be taken at face 
value as you appear to do. The importance of value, it's practical 
relevance, is a much more likely cause of the debate than any 
explicit denial of practical relevance on the part of participants.

Re Fine's concrete contributions: most important, imo, is not any 
single one, but the whole lot. Why? Because when faced with the 
question of 'what is the point of value theory?' I can point to Fine's 
work and say, 'look at that and tell me there is no point!:)'. As for 
discussing at such concrete levels in detail, I'm not yet up to it, I'm 
afraid. My (minimal) competence ceases once I get past the TP 
(which is where my PhD ends).

Best wishes,


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