[OPE-L] the point of a dynamic model?

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2007 - 15:53:49 EDT

Hi Jerry,

I was thinking tonight after expending my working capacity more like, how

Oh, where have you been, my Marxian gun?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young sum?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve organic compositions,
I've walked and I've crawled on six simultaneous equations,
I've stepped in the middle of seven price-value deviations,
I've been out in front of a dozen labour-values,
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a constant capital,
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rate of profit gonna fall.

When I studied philosophy of science, I learnt that a "model" is an
proto-theoretical analogy or isomorphism, which explores the
interrelationships of salient aspects of the object of study, in advance of
a comprehensive theory that can explain it in causal or stochastic terms. We
make a model, precisely because we lack a comprehensive theory that
reveals the inner determinisms of the object.

According to Stachowiak, a model needs to possess three features: a mapping
feature - a model is based on an original; a reduction feature: a model only
reflects a (relevant) selection of the original's properties; and a
pragmatic feature: a model needs to usable in place of the original, with
respect to some purpose (Herbert Stachowiak. Allgemeine Modelltheorie.
Springer-Verlag, Wien and NewYork, 1973 York, 1973, cited in Thomas Kuhne,
"what is a model?"
http://drops.dagstuhl.de/opus/volltexte/2005/23/pdf/04101.KuehneThomas1.Paper.pdf )

Marx does provide a comprehensive theory, but it is pitched at a high level
of abstraction, it reflects tendencies abstracted from historical
experience. This raises the important question of to what extent the theory
applies empirically, and really to understand its empirical applications we
would have to introduce quite a number of mediating links or qualifiers.
There's different ways to go with it, and so you get different schools of

TSSI is one school of thought - whereas you don't have to agree with
all of it, you could also acknowledge that it has identified some
of Marx's theory that were previously obscured, and that may be useful.

Suppose you are an essentialist. Then you would say something like, that
there are unobservable causal forces which explain the observable phenomena.
And that could be true, but the question you have to answer is then where
you get your notion of specific unobservable causal forces from. Seems to me
that the only reasonable answer to that is to say they are implied by
observables. The trouble though is that observables could imply any number
of unobservables, why these hypothesized causes, rather than any other? If I
seek to reason from some known premises to a known conclusion which is not
yet logically entailed by the known premises, any of a large number of
additional premises could be adduced to make the conclusion logically valid,
without any in the set of logically possible additional premises being
anymore "logical" than the other candidates in the set.

But you're right, if you wanted to model the levelling-out of profit rates
ultimately according to quantities of labour-time worked, then as I said you
would need a model with a very large number of variables, insofar as you
wanted to do it realistically.

That's why I suggested one option - not by necessity the best option, but an
option - is to regard Marx's theory as a sort of ideal type, and then
investigate actual empirical trends using the ideal type as a heuristic
device, in search of an explanation of those empirical trends. This is more
or less what Kozo Uno suggests.

You wouldn't of course necessarily have to agree with Weber's neo-Kantian
comparativism, insofar as you could argue that the abstractions in your
ideal type were abstractions arrived at in a disciplined way from
investigating the historical experience of the real world, and from a
critical assimilation of what previous theorists had made of it.

But as I suggested, the ideal type as heuristic device may not actually
lead to any particular concretization of it, and it may be difficult
to show that a more specific theory is logically related to the
pure theory.



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