Research‎ > ‎

2016 Thesis

The Law of Value: A Contribution to the Classical Approach to Economic Analysis


Awarded in 2016, after over 10 years of part-time research. I have to say it took a lot of hard work, discipline and struggle to pursue this research in addition to a full-time job. But the intellectual journey was rewarding, and I hope illuminating. There's a bunch of unpublished material here, which I plan to submit to journals over the coming years.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxpYW53cmlnaHRveGZvcmR8Z3g6MjZhMGQ2YzgyMzkxYjAzNA
Download it here.

Abstract:
This thesis contributes to our understanding of the relationship between the material activity of human labour and the monetary forms of an economy by examining the theoretical foundations of the classical approach to economic analysis, in particular the objective costs-of-production approach to economic value. 

The classical labour theory of value suffers from two related problems: David Ricardo’s problem of an invariable measure of value and Karl Marx’s transformation problem. This thesis proposes to resolve both problems by constructing a more general labour theory of value. 

The more general theory provides a new perspective on related issues in the classical theory, including Marx’s classification of money-capital as an irrational commodity, the meaning and significance of Piero Sraffa’s standard commodity and Luigi Pasinetti’s restriction of the labour theory to a normative role. 

According to the classical account of capitalist competition the scramble for profit causes market prices to “gravitate” to natural prices. This thesis proposes a nonlinear dynamic model of classical gravitation in which prices and labour costs converge to a state of mutual consistency in equilibrium. The dynamic model, combined with a general labour theory of value, establishes a lawful relation between prices and labour costs, which reconstructs Marx’s version of the classical “law of value”.

Table of contents:
  • Introduction
  • A category-mistake in the classical labour theory of value
  • Marx's irrational commodity
  • Sraffa's incomplete reduction to labour
  • Pasinetti's vertically-integrated subsystems and Marx's transformation problem
  • Substance or field? A note on Mirowski
  • The general law of value
  • Conclusion
Supplementary material:

(2014) A category-mistake in the classical labour theory of value. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, Volume 7, Issue 1, Spring 2014, pp. 27-55. PDF.

(2014) A talk on Chapter 4, Sraffa's incomplete reductions to labor, presented at Conference of the AHE, London, 2014:
 

(2013) A talk on Chapter 5, Pasinetti's vertically-integrated subsystems and Marx's transformation problem, presented at Conference of the AHE, London, 2013:


(2009) On nonstandard labour values, Marx's transformation problem and Ricardo's problem of an invariable measure of value. Boletim de Ciências Económicas LII, Universidade de Coimbra. PDF

Earlier working papers:

(2011) Classical macrodynamics and the labor theory of value. Open Discussion Papers in Economics, no. 76. Milton Keynes: The Open University. PDF

(2011) Convergence to natural prices in simple production. Open Discussion Papers in Economics, no. 75. Milton Keynes: The Open University. PDF

Wright, I. (2006) Prices of production are proportional to real-costs. Open Discussion Papers in Economics, no. 59. Milton Keynes: The Open University. PDF
Comments