Re: [OPE-L] standard commodity

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Mar 24 2005 - 05:11:22 EST

Hi Jerry,
It is worth clarifying that the paper we are discussing is at the draft stage. The bulk of the paper can currently be read as an immanent critique of general equilibroium -- and this is clearly how Paul C. views it. However, the conclusion of the paper, obviuosly written by Ajit, claims more than this -- much more. It talks about fundametal limitations to economic science as such. Now, having read and been intrigued by some of Ajit's previous work on Sraffa, where this claim about limitations on economic science as such is argued in detail, I have taken the opportunuity to discuss this latter claim. As far as the paper goes, then a redraft could just avoid the claim.  However, I am sympathetic to your second paragraph below. Why show a theory is wrong 'on its own terms' when one can show it is wrong on everyones terms, viz. in terms of reality?
Many thanks

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: OPE-L on behalf of Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM 
	Sent: Wed 23/03/2005 19:58 
	Subject: Re: [OPE-L] standard commodity

	>  [Ajit wrote:] Our paper deals with numeraire,
	> which has a well defined meaning in economic theory,
	> particularly in the theory that our paper is designed
	> to critique. How about if I say that poverty is the
	> most serious economic problem and your theory says
	> nothing about how to measure poverty or reduce
	> poverty. So, there! That's my criticism of your
	> theory. You will be legitimately allowed to say,
	> "bull"!
	Ajit and Andy:
	This is the issue that I inquired about yesterday.  If
	the paper _only_ represents an immanent critique of
	marginalism,  then is an ontological dispute relevant?
	In such cases logical consistency claims, such as
	those raised by Ian,  have more relevance. If, OTOH,
	what is being interrogated is a theory of capitalism, then
	ontological issues come into play.
	But,  there is an ontological critique of marginalism as
	well which claims that neo-neoclassical theory can not
	adequately describe the essential character of a capitalist
	economy. Unless we are talking merely about formal logical
	systems which are unconnected to reality and history and mere
	figments of the fanciful imagination of logicians, then
	ontological issues must be addressed.
	In solidarity, Jerry

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