Some Elegant Critique/Prose

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Wed Aug 28 16:39:40 MDT 2002

>From Mark Linder's "Anti-Samuelson" Vol. I pp. 9-10:

"Let us now turn to the philosophy of science and the methodology of
economics. S's [Samuelson's] discussion is marked by two trains of thought
which in the last analysis are incompatible and contradictory The first,
which we shall call 'positivist', concentrates on so-called value judgments:

[quoting Samuelson]: Basic questions concerning right and wrong goals to be
pursued cannot be settled by mere science as such. They belong in the realm
of ethics and ' value judgments.' The citizenry must ultimately decide such
issues. What the expert can do is point out the feasible alternatives and
the true costs that may be involved in different decisions. [7-8]

This statement prompts the following question: If science can indeed reveal
the feasible possibilities and the 'true' costs before executing them, what
else remains to be done before we decide on goals? S would have a strange
notion of ' truth' if once he found it he would not choose it over nontruth.
A major problem with this approach is that it is at best built on
half-truths because bourgeois economics cannot concede that these various
'decisions' are being made within a mode of production that creates the very
constraints necessitating these 'choices.' In other words, it does not
understand that capitalism itself produces objectively a set of ' value
judgments ' that form the basis for the relatively peripheral 'decisions'
bourgeois economics allows into its field of vision. Thus, for instance, the
'modern' preoccupation with 'trade-offs' between various 'evils' (e.g.,
unemployment and inflation, efficiency and equity) has become the focal
point in discussions of value judgments. But the basis for all these
concrete situations--namely the fact that independent and private producers
own the means of production and exploit the workers--is overlooked. Rather,
only the questioning of this basis itself--that is, of the forces inherent
in capitalism leading to its destruction and replacement by another mode of
production--is considered a value judgment and relegated to the sphere of
ethical irrrelevancies."

Jim C

James Craven
(Blackfoot Name: "Omahkohkiaayo-i'poyi-inaa")
Professor/Consultant Economics; Division (Business) Chairman;
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. 98663
(360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
blkfoot5 at
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