Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 23:55:43 EDT

I don't think any number of unskilled labour hours can perform the
work of a skilled surgeon, but for that reason I don't think that the
hours worked by surgeons etc count as expenditures of labour power,
defined as the group of skills common to all human labour: surgery is
the expenditure of a skill that is not shared across people to a
higher or lesser degree. On the other hand, it is arguable that an
amateur plumber can do plumbing work but at the cost of a lot of
hours finding out the regulations, planning the work, and doing the
job slowly (the ratio might perhaps be 8 to 1, so nearly everyone
hires a plumber, not to mention those jobs where the work has to be
inspected and by regulation must be done by a qualified plumber - so
bricklaying might be a better example)

>Marx says that commodities are commensurate in the market, but there
>is no way to
>get behind the market to get a handle on the abstract labor
>measures.  How many
>hours of abstract labor does a surgeon represent.  Can 20 or 50
>unskilled labor
>perform the same procedure?
>  --
>Michael Perelman
>Economics Department
>California State University
>Chico, CA 95929
>Tel. 530-898-5321
>E-Mail michael at

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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