Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 03:48:08 EDT

Fred wrote

Ajit seems to suggest in his comments below that the only variables that
are permissible in economic theories are EMPIRICALLY OBSERVABLE
MAGNITUDES.  In other words, a positivist or operationalist philosophy of
science.  Ajit keeps asking, "how do we EMPIRICALLY KNOW the L's and the m
in your equation?"  He asserts that, unless these variables are
empirically known, then there is no theory.

But this is not true.  Positivism is too narrow.  It is also permissible
for economic theories to be based on the assumption of unobservable
variables.  These assumptions cannot be directly empirically tested, but
they can be indirectly empirically tested, in terms of the conclusions
derived from these assumptions, which do refer to observable phenomena.
Paul Cockshott
I would be very hesitant in accepting this. If we do accept it,
then unobservables like subjective utility have the same causative
status as observables like the expenditure of labour time.

One of the great strengths of the Marxian theory of value is that
it rests on observable causative factors.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Jun 11 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT