A Note on Causation, Logical Implication, and the Ordering of Variables in Equations

This article was a response to a charge, by Changkeun Kim (2016) that there is circular reasoning in Freeman and Kliman’s definition of the Monetary Expression of Labour Time (MELT). Kim also charges that the Temporal Single System Interpretation (TSSI) of Marx’s value theory does not yield falsifiable conclusions, because it does not predict prices.

Both charges depend logically on an erroneous claim about what an arithmetic equation consists of, which have however wider implications because the error sheds light on the dogmatic character of the simultaneist concept of ‘determination’ which requires, essentially, that all endogenous variables of an economic system should be deducible, and completely fixed, by the equations of the system. This is the root of the postitivist prejudice that lies at the heart of economic religiosity.

Kim holds that an equation necessarily implies a causal relation by virtue of the order in which it is written. This is not so. The order in which an equation is written tells us nothing about the causal relations between the variables in it, and such an interpretation of the meaning of an equation contradicts the literature on the subject. Both charges therefore fall once this claim is recognised to be erroneous. In fact, causal explanations must come from outside the equation system.

Cite as Freeman, A. and Andrew Kliman. 2016. ‘A Note On Causation, Logical Implication, And The Ordering Of Variables In Equations’. Marxism 21. 2016, vol.13, no.4, pp. 104-133.

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