Re: (OPE-L) Ajit's paper

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 03:22:01 EDT

--- Ian Wright <iwright@GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> Hi Ajit
> Thanks for your reply.
> > Ian, I think what I'm saying holds even for a
> causal
> > theory. A theory of price or for that matter a
> theory
> > of anything, say X, is supposed to explain the
> > phenomenon of X. To say that the value of X in
> time t
> > is determined by the given value of X in time t-1
> is
> > not a causal theory that explains the phenomenon
> of X.
> > Because in your formulation, it is logical to say
> that
> > X in time t depends on the value of X in time
> (t-2),
> > since the value of X in time t-1 is explained by
> the
> > value of X in time t-2. This logically leads us to
> > infinite regresson. One will have to answer, how
> did X
> > come into being in the first place. And here your
> > causal explanation must identify a cause other
> than X.
> > That's why a theory of X that explains X on the
> basis
> > of X is not a theory. If you are doing forcasting
> etc.
> > then, of course, it makes sense to take into
> account
> > the previous values of the variable. But then
> > forcasting and theory are two different animals.
> I haven't read Freeman's response to this criticism,
> but the infinite
> regression argument is confused.
> Before explaining the confusion let's apply your
> argument to another
> domain, the theory of evolution. The purpose of the
> theory is to
> explain the development of species. Organisms
> generate copies with
> random variation. Selection occurs non-randomly.
> Therefore organisms
> adapt over time.
> But evolutionary theory explains the change in
> organisms by reference
> to previous organisms. By your criterion it is
> therefore subject to
> infinite regress and neither a theory nor an
> explanation of the
> development of species.

Not true. One must be clear about two entirely
separate questions: (1) How to explain a phenomenon,
and (2) How to explain CHANGES in that phenomenon.
These are two separate questions. A question of change
must take at least two time periods of the phenomenon.
A change cannot be thought about without elapse of
time. But the problem of the theory of value or prices
is not how prices change over time. It is to explain
the very phenomenon of price. So your analogy with
theory of evolution is incorrect. If your problem is
to explain life, you cannot do that by a theory that
shows changes in life forms. You will have to either
say that you cannot explain it, or that there are
certain chemical elements, that have no life, when
come together in certain proportion they cause life.
Now, here life cannot be explained by existing life.
> > One will have to answer, how did X come into being
> > in the first place. And here your causal
> explanation
> > must identify a cause other than X.
> And the origin of life is a topic in the theory of
> evolution. But
> biologists did not reject the theory of evolution
> because its result
> is also a premise.

I don't think origin of life is explained by life.
That will be nonsense. However, a theory of life does
not need to go to the origin of life. All it has to do
is to identify the non-living factors that must come
together to create life. Similarly, A theory of price
does not need to go to the origin of price. All it has
to do is to is to identify factors other than prices
that give rise to the price phenomenon.
> The infinite regress argument gains its plausibility
> from the correct
> stipulation that the explanans should not refer to
> the explanandum.
> But the flaw arises from the failure to distinguish
> between a type and
> instances of a type. The unstated premise is that
> the X at time t is
> identical to X at time t+1 and therefore the
> explanation is circular.
> But in fact they are different instances, although
> of the same type,
> hence the explanation is non-circular.

Not correct. What is X here? Price? then price is
price in time t and in time t+1, ... The phenomenon of
price is not changing. What is changing is its value.
But the theory of price is not about what changes the
value of prices but rather about what prices are.
> An explanation of price at time t+1 can refer to
> price at time t, just
> as an explanation of the evolution of horses can
> refer to earlier
> horses in history.

But the theory of price is not about the evolution of
prices. When have I denied that when one is writing a
history of prices in some country or so, s/he should
not refer to changes in prices over time. Your analogy
is simply misplaced.
The explanans and explanandum are
> different,
> although they happen to be of the same type.
> TSS models do not need to explain the origin of
> prices to qualify as
> an explanation of prices.

An explanation of prices, of course, need not refer to
the origin of prices. That's my point. It is the TSS
explanation that does that unconsciously. As I showed,
their formulation logically leads to the proposition
that todays prices are explained by the very first
price (even though it cannot explain where that very
first price came from). This is your problem not mine.
 They can assume price at a
> time t as a
> parameter. Not only is this a legitimate modelling
> approach, it allows
> prices to have a causal, not solely a nominal role,
> just as they do in
> reality.
You can assume whatever you want. But they have an
equation for price in time t, which depends on the
given price in time t-1. I can simply sustitute that
price in t-1 with exactly similar equation with price
in t-2 as its explanan, and go about doing that on and
on. It is their theory that tells me that this is how
it is.
> In general, this particular argument seems to be a
> misuse of static
> logic applied to historical processes.

No. The problem is that you are confusing the nature
of the problem. If the problem is not about any
historical process, then how can you incert historical
process to solve the problem?
I do not
> think there is need to
> spend any more time on this objection. I'll reply to
> your interesting
> objections to the MELT when I get the chance.
I think I have clarified everything and there is no
need to waste any more time on this. I look forward to
reading your comments on MELT. Cheers, ajit sinha
> ATB,
> -Ian.

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