[OPE-L] measuring causes

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri Dec 16 2005 - 08:32:21 EST

At 08:53 15/12/2005, Paul C wrote:
>Howard Engelskirchen wrote:
>   How do you form a conception of
>>'weak' without a ranking of priorities?
>I would suggest that there can be several ways in which it is valid to
>rank causes
>Consider the example of a fall in the rate of profit. One can quantiatively
>break down a fall in the rate of profit between two years into contributions
>a. The change in the organic composition of capital
>b. The fall or rise in the rate of surplus value
>c. Changes in the distribution of surplus value between profit and rent
>for example.
>One is then in a possition to say for example that the change in the
>rate of profit
>was 70% caused by a fall in the rate of surplus value, 20% by a rise in
>composition and 10% by a shift from profit to rent.
>Here the weightings allocated to different causal factors are relatively
>unambiguous and simple to determine.

Hi Paul,
         This is a great opportunity for a systems-illiterate person
like me to get an answer from a specialist. Assume that we have what
Marx called a 'structure of society, in which all relations coexist
simultaneously and support one another.' If you have a system with
substantial interaction, feedback, etc (eg. change in X produces
change in Y which produces change in Z which produces change in A
which produces major change in Y), then how can we reason from the
quantitative results of change to the weight to be assigned to
causes? The unambiguous results you suggest would certainly be true
if we assume no interaction effects (ie., that we can assign weights
to factor A and to factor B but the value of AB approaches zero), but
then the conclusion is embodied in the assumption. On the other hand,
how can we come to a weighting of causes from the empirical results?
         in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Dec 18 2005 - 00:00:01 EST