[OPE-L:7494] [OPE-L:1031] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marx's concept of prices of

Paul Cockshott (clyder@gn.apc.org)
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 09:33:20 +0100

>My main concern at the present time is not the empirical validity of this
>assumption, but ratrh to attain greater clarity on Marx's logic in his
>theory of prices of production. I agree of course that the empirical
>question is an important one. If the empirical evidence is contrary to
>Marx's assumption, then Marx's theory should be further developed to
>explain this more concrete phenomenon. But I still then the theoretical
>question is important for two main reasons:
>1. Marx's "faulty logic" in his theory of prices of production is
>probably still the most common reason given by economists (and others) for
>rejecting Marx's theory. So far as I know, the failure of profit rates to
>equalize is seldom if ever given as a reason for rejecting Marx's theory.
>If it could be demonstrated that Marx's logic is not faulty, then I think
>this could ultimately have an impact on the way Marx is regarded within
>the economics profession. I think the theoretical battle within the
>economics profession, which is also a battle for the minds and hearts of
>students, is important.

I think you are right about the economics profession never questioning
the equalisation of the rate of profit. But does this not reveal something
about the nature of the problematic within which the economics profession
has been working?
It shows that certain things literally could not be questioned, they were
held as a-priori axioms. If my impressions are right, this has been
the general view since Ricardo.
But this process of holding certain truths to be self evident, without
checking if they actually hold says something about the unscientific
method used in economics.

>2. In my view, the extension of Marx's theory to explain unequal rates of
>profit should be based on a further development of Marx's theory of prices
>of production, or his theory of the distribution of surplus-value. In
>other words, it should be based on Marx's overall logical method, applied
>to a more concrete level.

One must distinguish between logical method and specific hypotheses.
That rates of profit equalise is a hypothesis, when one makes it a
suplementary axiom in a logical development, then one can apply
a logical method to it. The question is whether this axiom is justified.

>I don't think the way to go is to revert back
>to the more abstract level of value analysis. But in order to further
>develop Marx's theory, based on his logical method, we first need to
>understand as thoroughly as possible just what Marx's logical method was.
>I realize this is a slow and sometimes tortous road, but I hope it will
>ultimately prove to be worthwhile.
>So I don't think it is a "waste of time" to try to gain a better
>understanding of Marx's logical method in his theory of prices of
>production. But I am not asking Paul to do it either. To each his own
>concerns. There are many worthwhile things that need to be done.
In terms of your defence of Marx's logical method, I am 100% behind
your reconstruction of it, it is just that I am less concerned with the
of economic thought than you are.