[OPE-L:1205] Re: determination of constant capital

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 09:22:06 -0800

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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.

I agree that value is social, but since social activity is
part of the material world, social activity is also physical.
I was raising the general point, (which I recall Alan Freeman
making at the CSE) that no physical process, at least no classical
physical process, can be instantaneous, and thus to the extent
that society is physical, the idea of strictly synchronous
determination of value might be unphysical. I then went on to
argue that spacially seperate synchronous events are acceptable
provided that they are acausal, or at least produced effects
only over a period.


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

The above theorem is ambiguous, lacking a symbol type face I
will put it in words

Do you mean
a) simultaneous determination of values => there exists an x :
x is a change in values AND not (x => change in r) where
r is the rate of profit.

Or do you mean
b) simultaneous determination of values => for all x : x is a change
in values , not(x => change in r)

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.

You give a proof of proposition (a) above. I do not see that
there is anything surprising or controversial about it. The rate of
profit is a ratio between two numbers, and as such must be unchanged
if we multiply both by a constant. Why should we expect the rate
of profit to change under these circumstances?

If you had proven proposition (b) then, that would be a serious