[OPE-L:986] Re: Definitions and Tautologies

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Wed, 7 Feb 1996 12:34:33 -0800

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It will take me awhile to digest and respond to the particulars of
Alan's post on the above topic, but I think I should quickly respond
to one comment in order to forestall further misapprehension.

Alan writes:
> Point 1: which crime, inconsistency or truth-by-definition?
> ===========================================================
> Gil, it seems to me, has taken to hesitating between claims
> that Marx is inconsistent, and Marx is true by definition. I
> think he can't do both and I think he will have to settle for
> one or the other.

Although I'm sure this is unintentional, this passage doubly
misrepresents my arguments. First, my central argument has been that
Marx's conclusion at the end of Vol. I Ch. 5 cannot be validly
derived from the analysis presented in Ch. 5. This argument has nothing
to do with "inconsistency or truth-by-definition", and there is no
hesitation; I state quite unambiguously that Marx's deduction is simply invalid.

Second, where the issue Alan refers to arises is with respect to the
subsidiary question of whether total values [in their monetary expression]
equal total prices. But here there has been no hesitation on my part
whatsoever: I've said all along, and continue to maintain, that Marx did not in
fact assert this; and that the passage Alan indicates doesn't even
refer to prices, understood as distinct from [the monetary expression
of] values. However, if Marx had asserted this (which I don't
believe or find any evidence for), the claim would either be in
general wrong or true only by definition.

In support of this point I need only quote the relevant portion of my
earlier post:

"Marx nowhere asserts that total prices equal total values; and if he
did the assertion is either true only by definition or is in general

In solidarity, Gil Skillman