Re: [OPE-L] Fact or philosophical conception?

From: Alejandro Agafonow (alejandro_agafonow@YAHOO.ES)
Date: Tue Aug 21 2007 - 15:11:07 EDT

Bendien: «I am still not really sure about what Alejandro's dual theory of value means. It seems to refer to several polarities:»
Value in use, versus value in exchange
Marxists tends to see a contradiction in the fulfilment of value in use through value in exchange, but Liberal-Socialist tradition has a different point of view because the institutional requirements of a large economy needs a way to match as far as possible social division of labour with preferences as they are. Marxists has seen in planning a logical way to do that but for us it is far from to be evident that central planning is able to integrate preferences easily. Only when both scholars meet each other in the recognition that a full consumer market is unavoidable, they start to agree at least in some points.
Do all you agree in the necessity of a full consumer market? I see so much apprehension in your writings.
Competition versus cooperation (self-interest versus common interest)
Yes, it is the core of «dualist theory of value». In 1924 Karl Polanyi replyed to Ludwig von Mises and Felix Weil in the Austrian Journal Archiv für Sozialwissenschaften und Sozialpolitik. His argument settles the basis for the theoretical integration of two conflicting dimensions in contemporary society: (1) societal power relations and (2) mutually recognized societal relations. Nor Mises neither the Marxist Weil recognized the opposing forces that nurture this kind of societal relations, that long ago in political philosophy and in the contemporary public choice literature is called «intransitivity». Mises and contemporary Austrians believe that market is enough to surpass this normative problem that translates empirically in the stability of social system. Marxists too believe that it magically will disappear in absence of markets and social classes.
In the field of Welfare Economics some scholars have tried to integrate theoretically both dimensions. Pigou’s marginal net social product and marginal net private product intend to reflect this dichotomy and Harsanyi’s subjective preferences and ethical preferences intend to do so. Lange believed that socialist accounting would be able to register Pigou’s social costs but he forgot the un-surpassing knowledge handicaps that comparing and recording utilities have, what precisely moved him to reply Austrian with a socialist market.
Fortunately, post-utilitarian welfare economics in the works of Amartya Sen and John Rawls has the key for a theoretical integration of private and commons. The starting point, which is not so clear in Sen, is that concerning social justice claims utility has nothing to do and, even a market mechanism could keep dealing with appropriate individual marginal utilities, social policy out the field of utility making possible interpersonal comparisons of oughts, not beings.
Some years in the future I expect to introduce to you a book analysing all this properly.
Objective value, versus subjective value
All you could agree that exist subjective value. But what you call objective value is a confusion with empirical facts whose existence is impossible out social construction. Objective value properly conceived derived from a meta-agreement needed to conceive a functional social order.
The fact that some of you propose to record and allocate labour time doesn’t make it «objective» even less «value». As the Austrian Trygve Hoff wrote, labour is not essentially different from the consistent use of motor-headlights or tillers as a common unit of reckoning.
Kind regards,
Alejandro Agafonow

----- Mensaje original ----
De: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL>
Enviado: lunes, 20 de agosto, 2007 21:49:13
Asunto: [OPE-L] Fact or philosophical conception?

I am still not really sure about what Alejandro's dual theory of value means. It seems to refer to several polarities:
- value in use, versus value in exchange
- competition versus cooperation (self-interest versus common interest)
- objective value, versus subjective value
What I am sure of, is that the existence of labour-value is an empirical claim, and not sinply a philosophical conception. 
Marx defined economic life as the totality of production, distribution, circulation and consumption. However he never theorised consumption systematically. In the sphere of consumption, the aspect of use-value or utility obviously gains prominence. That is why Oskar Lange, among others, was in favour of integrating the insights of classical political economy with those of modern "utilitarian" economics. 
I agree though with Alejandro that an economics concerned only with either exchange-value or use-value/utility would be an imbalanced economics. Marx's economics is plainly insufficient to run a wellfunctioning socialist economy, but then it was not intended primarily for that purpose.

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