Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction-human capital

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 09:09:37 EDT

You are invoking 3 things here

1. The labour time of the surgeon
2. Human Capital
3. Rent

I am happy enough with the first and the last - under conditions of
scarcity surgeons may earn rent. The notion of Human Capital though is
one I am reluctant to accept. It stems, I
Think from applying the neoclassical notion of capital as a source of
value to humans, but in Marx's theory capital is not a source of value,
so why should Human Capital be?

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Hunt
Sent: 14 June 2007 11:58
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction

Dear Paul
  I should have added that you  can get the value of the special skill
by Rubin and Hilferding's method. But the longer time is not just
doing the same work slowly, it involves different concrete labours
from surgery. The labour of learning takes years rather than just a
pause to look up the DIY bricklaying guide. It may be only a
quantitative difference but this amounts to the difference between
trained labour power and a special skill. Therefore, rather than say
that more hours of abstract labour are contained in the concrete
labour of surgery, it would be better to say that the skill (as a bit
of fixed human capital) imparts its value to the product on top of
the labour the surgeon does. If the skills are scarce, there will be
rent earned on top.

>I only meant that you cannot get an ordinarily skilled person to do
>the work of a surgeon over a longer period of time, as you can get an
>ordinarily skilled person to do the work of a bricklayer, though over
>a longer period of time
>Are surgeons then from a different species?
>All trades, that of surgeon included, involve a time acquiring the
>Thus over a longer period of time you can get any person to do it -
>that you set aside the time for them to gain the skill. This longer
>also applies to bricklaying - if it is to be done soundly rather than
>a botched job of it. The time to aquire some skills is shorter than
>but there is not a qualitative difference.

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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