Re: [OPE] Models and Marx

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Sun Feb 13 2011 - 14:03:07 EST

Hi Dave,

The point is that we cannot characterize a model by the problem to be
explained. That's overbroad, as Jerry suggests. Any set of data has an
infinite number of theories that will explain it, but not all of these could
qualify as models of whatever causal mechanism is at work. You can badly
characterize what is required for the propagation of light, get details
wrong, etc., and yet still model, poorly, the electro-magnetic field. But
you can't model imaginary entities. You may think you do, but then have to
correct and say in fact my so-called model referred to nothing at all.
That's the case with phlogiston. In combustion oxygen combines with other
elements to form oxides. But phlogiston theory has it that there's a
substance given off in the process. But there's no such causal mechanism in


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Saturday, February 12, 2011 2:36 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Models and Marx

> On 2011-02-12 18:48, Paul Cockshott wrote:
>> Howard's point is that 'models' of fairys are models of imaginary
>> entities, he implied that the same applied to phlogiston.
> Seems like I misread Howard's point. I should have written 'the
> phlogiston theory of combustion' to start with since it is combustion
> that is the observed process that the theory attempts to explain.
> //Dave Z
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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Received on Sun Feb 13 14:04:39 2011

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