[OPE-L:1192] Re: determination of constant capital

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 12:40:04 -0800

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A response to Paul C. (ope-l 1184):

I've read Mirowski (fairly carefully) but I know no physics, so the
analogy Paul made went over my head. At least *I* consider it an
analogy, because I do not consider value determination a physical
process, as Marx conceives value. In his theory, commodities'
existence as values is purely social. I recognize, however, that
Paul's conception of valuation may indeed be physical.

The other issue Paul raised was whether I had demonstrated that
simultaenous valuation is incompatible with the determination of
value by labor-time. I was going to address this in the responses
I owe to Paul, Gil and Allin, but since Paul brought it up again, I
may as well deal with it separately here.

First, to clear up two things--Allin had earlier demonstrated that
if valuation is simultaneous, a change in labor-time requirements
implies that values will be different from before. I agree. He
suggests that my theorem is thus incorrect according to one
possible meaning of "determination of value by labor-time." First,
I think it was rather clear that I meant something more than
what he showed when I referred to DVLT. Second, I disagree that
what he showed is a relation of determination, rather than the
immediate consequence of a definition.

The other thing to clear up is that Allin contends that my example
did not provide enough information because it didn't mention wages.
Actually, it did. In a sentence that Allin himself quotes, I
stated that both outlays and amounts produced remain constant.
"Outlays" generally refers, and I used it to refer, to both
means of production *and* to workers' means of subsistence.

So let's go back to my proof. First, as the term "determinant" is
generally used in economics and elsewhere, if a change in X leads
to (or implies, etc.) a change in Y, given all other influences on
Y are held constant, then we say that X is a determinant of Y. But
if, under the same ceteris paribus conditions, a change in X does not
lead to a change in Y, then we say that X is not a determinant of

Anyone who rejects the view that Marx used the term "determination" when
referring to the determination of value by labor-time, in this or a
substantially similar sense--you can stop reading. My prrof won't
matter to you. Also, anyone who thinks that Marx did not mean that
the rate(s) of profit are likewise determined by labor-time--you can
stop reading.

Now, if I have to, I'll substantiate that Marx did use "determination" in
the sense I adumbrated, and that he did think that labor-time also
was a determinant of the rate(s) of profit in the same sense. I hope I
don't have to.

Theorem: changes in labor-time requirements do not lead to changes in
the rate(s) of profit if values are simultaneously determined.

Proof: hold constant all outputs and all physical outlays (including
outlays to hire labor-power). Then the "value" rate of profit for
any firm, industry, etc. will change if and only if relative values
change. Let the vector of unit living labor requirements change from
L to kL, where k is a scalar. The vector of simultaneously determined
values thus changes from v = L{(I-A)} to kL{(I-A)} = kv (because A is
constant). Hence, relative values remain unchanged. Hence, all
"value" rates of profit remain unchanged. Q.E.D.

Similarly for the uniform "price" rate of profit if input and output
prices are equal: this rate is influenced only by physical outlays
and outputs, plus relative prices. But relative prices are influenced
only by physical outlays and outputs. Hence, if physical outlays and
outputs remain the same, while labor requirements change, the profit
rate remains unchanged.

Andrew Kliman