[OPE-L:7098] [OPE-L:597] Re:Linearity, basket decomposition, etc

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 4 Mar 1999 13:10:19 -0500 (EST)

Alan wrote in [OPE-L:593]:

> Such fine-grain analysis of the basic axiomatisation can at most lead to
> the conclusion that we need a couple extra axioms. So what? If we need an
> extra axiom or two to fully mathematise Marx's commodity-concept, then
> fine; be constructive, let's add them. The constructive way to approach
> this would be to try and devise the minimum such axiom set and then study
> the conclusions that can be deduced from this axiom-set; then we can study,
> for example, whether the axiom-set can be relaxed to cover less developed
> forms of distribution such as arbitrage

The methodology that Alan suggests (if I understand it correctly), runs
along the following sequence:

1) ask: what were the results (i.e. conclusions) that Marx came to?

2) attempt to duplicate results.

3) if there are problems duplicating the results, add -- as necessary --
a couple of extra axioms.

4) (having allegedly established the validity of Marx's theorem) relax
the axiom set later on to address other issues.

This begs the question, though, whether it is appropriate (i.e. in keeping
with Marx's method and analysis) to stipulate the couple of extra axioms.

IMO, axioms are powerful devices and should be treated with great caution
and suspicion. We should be particularly cautionary when, in an
interpretation of Marx, there is either no evidence or scant evidence that
Marx supported using the axioms in question when addressing a particular
subject. Isn't the more appropriate method, then, to inquire about
the implications of adding specific axioms before one recommends doing

I worry that simply adding-on axioms to support a result is too similar to

In solidarity, Jerry