[OPE-L:682] Re: LTV an assumption?

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Fri, 8 Dec 1995 15:34:19 -0800

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Steve K wrote in [681]:

> I have to agree with Fred's general argument that the LTV--or indeed the
> utility theory of value--cannot be "proven" in the sense that it
> rests on a set of "methodological presupposutions about how a theory
> of capitalism should be constructed", and that these presuppositions
> are unprovable.
I don't regard the materialist conception of history or the dialectical
method as "presuppositions." If there was a simple assertion of
assumptions (or axioms, if you will), then the above would be accurate. I
think that one has to recall, though, the place of _Capital_ in Marx's
thought and the fact that rather than simply assert "presuppositions",
Marx went to great length critiquing bourgeois philosophical and
political thought and practice.
> As Meek's _Studies_ argues so well, Marx's presuppositions are in
> the "just price" tradition of basing value upon the effort involved in
> production, whereas the neoclassical presuppositions are based
> upon the Mercantilist tradition of basing value on the willingness of
> the buyer to pay, and hence on subjective valuations.
Doesn't one additionally have to situate these schools of thought
historically and in relation to material developments and class interests
and antagonisms?
> These presuppositions themselves cannot be
"proven", and in > this sense Fred is correct that, when comparing Marx's
> analysis to neoclassical theory, the choice ultimately comes
> down to how well they enable the practitioners to analyse
> reality.
> But one can also analyse the derivation of concepts from
> these competing presuppositions and say (a) whether the
> derivations are logical; and (b) whether these concepts lead
> to conceptual conundrums.
> (b), for example, is the transformation problem for marxian
> economics; it is the Cambridge Controversies for
> neoclassical economics.
Philosophical "presuppositions" can not be "proven" in a mathematical or
scientific sense unless one believes that philosophy and political
economy are sciences in the sense that Paul C. seems to believe (he is,
of course, free to correct me if I am misstating Paul's position). It is
not only a question, though, of how well philosophical conceptions
"enable the practitioners to analyse reality." It is also a question of
how reality shapes those conceptions.
Steve does not mention the logical problems for Post-Keynesian thought
above (e.g. the inconsistency between the Keynesian and Kaleckian
theories regarding such questions as the relevance of "long-run"
analysis, "microfoundations", etc.).

In OPE-L Solidarity,