[OPE-L:3028] Re: The "Scorecard"

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sun, 15 Sep 1996 10:39:46 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Jerry's ope-l 3027.

Jerry: "I have lost count of how many times you made that point ["an
interpretation of _Capital_ must be able to account for the main features of
the work as a whole, all three volumes" (Tony Smith)], but *my* point was that
"your" point has also been made by others, including Tony. Another point
behind my quotation from Tony's book was to get us to recognize that other
interpretations have made the same claim and both the "canon" itself and the
particular interpretations of others regarding whether other interpretations
meet this "test" need to be confronted and discussed."

Andrew: You're mixing up apples and oranges, Jerry. Tony was referring to
an interpretation of _Capital_ as a whole. "TSS interpretation" is shorthand
for the "temporal single-system interpretation of the 'quantitative' dimension
of Marx's value theory in _Capital_." You are also mixing up interpretations
with statements made by proponents of these interpretations; interpretations
do not make claims. (More on this below.) To my knowledge, no one has
claimed that any interpretation of the "quantitative" dimension of Marx's
value theory in _Capital_ other than TSS replicates the original or fails to
contradict it in some way. Since, however, I think an adequate interpretation
must meet this test, and since the claim has been made with respect to the TSS
interpretation, I undertook an empirical test of the conformance of three main
interpretations of the "quantitative" dimension of Marx's value theory in
_Capital_ to the theoretical results of the original.

I am awaiting, patiently, Michael W.'s response to my last post on systematic

Jerry: "Interpretation is *part* of the process of investigation. The problem
with hermeneutics is that those who are engaged in the realm of interpretation
can find themselves trapped in that realm."

Andrew: Interpretation need not be part of a process of investigation. It
can be an endeavor in its own right. Precisely because Marx could be wrong,
it is crucial to keep interpretation of his work separate from theory
construction, and I think failure to do so has led a lot of people into
untenable interpretations to which they nonetheless continue to adhere because
they like the resulting theory or whatever. IMO, that is the main trap with
which WE need to be concerned now.

Jerry: "The 'scorecard' presents the 'empirical results' from your
perspective. To respond adequately to the results, others would have to
respond to the *particulars* of the TSS interpretationS that derived the

Andrew: I do not think there are multiple TSS interpretations. There are a
multiplicity of views held by proponents of the TSS interpretation, and there
are unresolved issues flowing out of that interpretation. But the TSS
interpretation *is* the following two propositions concerning Marx's value
theory in _Capital_: (a) value and price magnitudes are determined in
historical time, such the the input and output magnitudes can differ; and (b)
values and prices constitute one system, such that the prices of means of
production and subsistence are determinants of constant and variable capital,
and the "value" rate of profit, s/(c+v), is a determinant of the aggregate
price of output. These interpretative claims are sufficiently distinct from
those of other interpretations, and lead to sufficiently different
conclusions, for the TSS interpretation to be considered a unitary
interpretation distinct from the "standard" and "SSS" interpretations.

Again, what is at issue is the interpretation, not the views of its
proponents. There are differences between the views of Bortkiewicz and
Morishima, Steedman and Shaikh, etc. But they all adhere to the same
formalization. There are differences between Bruce and Fred, but they both
adhere to the same formalization. The formalizations, the representations of
Marx's value theory, *are* the interpretations. The equations have their own
implications, independent of what those who write down the equations say about

With the *possible* exception of the results I reported concerning joint
production, no "particulars" need to be added to obtain the results I
reported. For the sake or argument, assume that the joint production stuff
requires extra "particulars." That leaves 9 theoretical results of Marx. The
standard interpretation replicates 2, negates 7. The SSS interpretation
replicates 3, negates 6. The TSS interpretation replicates 9, negates 0. I
think the overall results of the test are the same as before.

I'm not sure exactly what the first of Jerry's 2 sentences here mean.
"Perspective" may just be referring to my representation of the TSS
interpretation. If so, I have just dealt with this issue. But "perspective"
may be implying the attitude Ted originally expressed concern over: the
attitude that what Marx said and wrote and meant is not decidable in
principle, so that, ultimately, one interpretation is as good as another. I
agree with Ted that this attitude is a flight from critical thinking and
methods, and should be fought.

Jerry: "I think it is most unfair to suggest that we did [not] have 'direct'
responses to the TSS (and other) interpretations."

Andrew: And I didn't suggest this. I suggested that I have not heard a
direct response to my empirical test from anyone other than proponents of the
TSS interpretation, and that "The lack of direct response (since February) to
the 'scorecard' concerns me, since it is exactly what Ted refers to as
'critical dialogue fall[ing] apart.'" To this last point, Jerry responds:

"Since the 'scorecard" was presented on OPE-L for the first time on Friday the
13th (strange timing!) the lack of response can hardly be attributed to
whatever has or has not gone on on this list. The process of 'critical
dialogue', though, is crucially dependent (at least in a Net forum such as
OPE-L) on whether the participants believe that they are being invited to a
*dialogue*. When others sniff rhetoric (whether it is intended or not; whether
it is rhetoric or not), they tend to 'tune-out.'"

Andrew: And I did not attribute the lack of response *since February* "to
whatever has or has not gone on on this list." If Jerry is implying by the
"rhetoric" comment that my empirical test is somehow faulty, I'd appreciate
knowing the precise problems with it he perceives.

I should also mention, however, that I realize that different empirical tests
can come to different conclusions, so I am very interested to see the results
of alternative empirical tests of the relative adequacy of different
interpretations of the "quantitative" dimension of Marx's value theory that
Jerry or others may choose to undertake. What I do not accept is the view
that the issue is *undecidable in principle*. The lack of response to the
evidence (not TSS in general) worries me because it seems to indicate a
withdrawal from the search for intersubjective truth. There are, of course,
other kinds of evidence, but what we saw on this list and elsewhere is that
evidence such as passages from the texts proved inconclusive. My empirical
test is meant to get around this problem by identifying theoretical results of
Marx about which there is general agreement, and seeing whether various
interpretations replicate them. Again, what *precisely* is wrong with this
test? Is the problem "rhetoric," or the fact that the results of the test are
so striking?

Andrew Kliman