[OPE-L:7220] [OPE-L:745] Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought experiment on exchange

Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Wed, 24 Mar 1999 18:06:50 -0500

A postscript to my reply to Andrew's post 736, in which he states:

>This is still more question-begging.

I would have thought that the "question-begging" charge had been laid to
rest by now, if nothing else as the result of my response to Andrew's paper
(as yet unanswered), in which I showed that Andrew's "interpretation" makes
*exactly* the claim that I'm criticizing Marx for. Thus it may be that my
critique is wrong, but it's hard to see how it begs the question at hand.

Here's the exchange in question:

Andrew: In the
previous paragraph, he proceeded from the equal magnitudes of the
exchange-values to derive a content common to them all. Similarly,
he here proceeds from the exchange of two equivalent commodities to
derive their equality to a third thing: *if* “1 quarter of corn = x
cwt of iron” (Marx, 1977:127), *then* a common element of “identical
magnitude” exists in each. “If A, then B” does not imply “if B,
then A.”

Gil: [Yes, this is exactly the point of my critique, and demonstrates better
than any other single passage that I am not "begging the question," as
Andrew suggests. First, the fact that alternative bundles represent "equal
magnitudes" in the sense that they're all exchangeable for a quarter of
wheat *does not allow* the derivation of "a content common to them all."
By the same token, the exchange of two "equivalent" commodity bundles does
not support the "derivation" of "their equality to a third thing." In
repeating Marx's claims here, Andrew is simply reasserting the claims that
I criticize. It *does not follow* 'that *if* “1 quarter of corn = x cwt of
iron” (Marx, 1977:127), *then* a common element of “identical
magnitude” exists in each.'

Andrew's "interpretation" thus *reasserts*, rather than avoids, precisely
the steps in Marx's argument that Steve and I have been criticizing.]