Market/planned (fwd

Richard Wolff rwolff at minerva.cis.yale.edu
Sat Jan 14 09:01:57 MST 1995


	To: Marshall Feldman

		No, my critique of foundationalism in regard to
		efficiency claims is not vitiated by anything I
		wrote. Perhaps the problem here is my use of the
		term "overdetermination" which I should have
		explained. The claim of something being either
		efficient or inefficient is, I argue, simply a
		ploy (conscious or unconscious) whereby someone
		who wants something (e.g., a particular economic
		institution such as markets or a particular economic
		act/event such as building a garbage-burning factory)
		makes claims about its virtues or vices as being
		absolute  in the sense of valid alike for everyone.

		Thus, markets are efficient for everyone ("optimal");
		or building a garbage-burning factory is inefficient
		for everyone "polluting") etc.

		Instead, my point is to show how, since no one can
		know or measure all the costs and benefits associated
		with markets, factories, or anything else being debated
		or struggled over, the contestants' claims that they
		know or have measured all such effects to reach their
		conclusions about efficieny or inefficiency are not
		to be taken seriously.

		Rather, we need to accept the irreducibly partial
		bases for everyone's preferences/desires/efficiency
		calculi. Each person's standards are uniquely overdetermined
		by all the influences that shaped their biographies.
		BUT NO FOUNDATION OR FOUNDATIONALISM lurks in such a
		statement. This is because we cannot account for all
		those influences that together overdetermine our respective
		definitions/standards/values/ etc. We cannot do that
		because they - like the ramifications of economic
		institutions or acts - are infinite, hence unknowable in
		toto, hence unmeasureable, hence NO FOUNDATION in the
		sense of some account valid for everyone across their
		differences.

		As Foucault and Derrida sing so incessantly, the issue
		is difference and whether - as Marx first put it - we
		have gotten far enough in the critique of religion
		(read monotheism, absolutism, mono-causalism, determinism,
		essentialism....and the other synonyms) to commence,
		freed from the search for absolutes, the needed critique
		of social life.

	Rick Wolff

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