[OPE-L:6564] N. Sieber

From: Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 20:17:46 EST

Re Rakesh 6485:

Dear Rakesh:

I just found this unsent message:

You write:

>I was wondering whether you know Amartya Sen's On the Labor Theory of 
>value: some methodological issues, CJE 1978 2, 175-190
>I heard echoes of you when I read:
>"...if value is of descriptive interest IN ITSELF, then one may be 
>inerested in the relationship between values and prices even if this 
>is not a convenient way of calcuating prices with given physical 
>data, or a good way of predicting future prices. Value is then 
>treated not as an 'intermediate product' in some calculational or 
>predictive exercise but a as a concept of interest in its own right." 
>p. 182

Thanks for the reference. It'd be nice to have a good library at hand!

Although I don't know Sen's article, I think you are right regarding the
"echoes" you are hearing. My present understanding of Marx's theory of
value may be compatible with the text you cite.

I think this theory is, essentially, the *draft* of a system of social
accounting aimed at recording real, historical magnitudes: the expenditure
of social labor-time and its money-value ("fetishistic") representation.
Social labor-time plays in Marx the role of the "real" magnitude, analogous
to the "deflated" figures we have in in the standard social accounting
system. In this sense, yes, the recording of the real cost of the
reproduction (measured in labor-time) has an "interest in its own right",
quite independently of calculations performed within unplausible
"equilibrium" models or, as Sen says, "exercises". Only within those
"equilibrium" exercises, social labor time may appear as "redundant". If
our perspective is to develop a social science based on real, historical
data (not in idealistic "hypothesis" based in pressumed individual
behaviours), the reckoning of the human labor expenditure is a central part
of the quantitative aspect of the theory.


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