[OPE-L:2928] Re: Okishio and the poverty of mathematical economics

Stephen Cullenberg (Stephen.Cullenberg@ucr.edu)
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 15:48:17 -0700 (PDT)

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I do think that the Okishio theorem is based on a linear price of
production model, and lurking behind an equal-rate-of-profit condition is
an (not always explicit) assumption of methodological individualism. How
else does one appeal to a tendency towards profit rate equality? Elster
makes this argument well, and so does Roemer, and although I don't agree
with them on many things, I think they are right about this.

My comments in ope-l 2924 had more to do with (a) how people use the notion
of equilibrium differently, and (b) how precisely posed questions, whether
in a mathematical form or not, do not have to be about the world, qua
description, in order to be useful. Thus, for instance, anyone arguing
that a free market optimally prices non-renewable resources has a very
heavy theoretical cross to bear, when one realizes what assumptions must be
made to make such a statement. The examination of optimality isn't made by
investigating the world (I don't even know how an empirical investigation
could answer that question, as universal statements like optimality cannot
be answered through observation, given the problem of induction). So, for
me the counterfactual kind of puzzle solving, which A-D general equilibrium
models do, and social choice theorists ask, serves an important purpose.

I get the feeling, however, that I may be missing something in your query.


>Responding to Steve C's [OPE-L:2924]: Could you please explain the
>relationship between your comments there and the following?:
>"That the Okishio theorem is based on a methodological individualism and
>the Cartesian totality is a straightforward extension of the linear price
>of production model of the economy."
>The characteristics of the "Cartesian theoretical program", the author of
>the above goes on to write (citing Levins and Lewontin), include: "1.
>*Ontological individualism* ... 2. *Pregiven rationality* ... 3.
>*Homogeneity* ... 4. *Reductionist explanation* ... 5. *Totality as a
>configuration of parts* ....".
>In OPE-L Solidarity,

Stephen Cullenberg office: (909) 787-5037, ext. 1573
Department of Economics fax: (909) 787-5685
University of California Stephen.Cullenberg@ucr.edu
Riverside, CA 92521