[OPE-L:7155] [OPE-L:662] equality, identity, and value

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 16:32:54 -0500 (EST)

Both Chai-in and Steve have asked about why the issue I raised in [658]
has come up now.


In [651], Gil placed great stress on the "1 quarter of corn = x cwt of
iron" being an "*equation*". He went on to add:

> Saying one bundle is exchanged for another is not generally the same as
> saying that one bundle equals another.

My response in [658] was intended to show that simply because there is
an "=" sign does not establish that 1 side of the "equation" is equal to
the other side in all respects.

Chai-on points to the difference between identity and equality.

Yet Gil had previously in [653] quoted Tarski as suggesting that "the same
meaning is ascribed".

So perhaps Chai-on is using different definitions of equality and identity
than those used by Tarski and Gil.

Let's step back a moment.

*Every* economic theory has a theory of value (whether it is explicitly
stated or inferred).

One of the major questions that a theory of value answers is: what
determines exchange-value? If you can't answer that question, then you
can't have a theory of (any type of) price either.

Obviously, it would be a tautology to say that exchange-value determines

Is it marginal utility, as suggested by the marginalists? If Gil and Steve
think there are problems with Marx's theory, what about the marginalists'
theory? E.g. what is a "util" and how is that fiction measured?

A theory of value could be based on physical quantities. If that is the
case, how does money enter the picture except as a numeraire?

What I don't hear Steve or Gil suggesting, then, is an *alternative*
theory of value.

In solidarity, Jerry