Essays in Honor of Lance Taylor
Edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt
William Darity, Jr., Bobbie L. Horn and Michael Syron Lawlor* The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth. (T. Veblen, 1904, p. 20.) I INTRODUCTION When Sraﬀa surveyed the ﬁeld of value theory in the prefatory comments of his inﬂuential 1926 article on the Marshallian theory of competitive price, what he found most remarkable was the relative lack of contention concerning questions of value theory: ‘A striking feature of the present position of economic science is the almost unanimous agreement at which economists have arrived regarding the theory of competitive value.’ (1926 p. 535). One might be tempted to say that Sraﬀa spent the rest of his career in an attempt to upset this tranquility – and, that he was substantially successful in that eﬀort. As theoretical controversies go, taking a broad view of Sraﬀa’s almost invisible inﬂuence, the dispute raised by Sraﬀa over the fundamental approach of economic theory to the question of relative price formation has proved to be a protracted and enduring one, at least since the 1960s. Elements of the debate have ranged across all levels of economic discussion, from interpretation of the history of the discipline to the central theoretical framework of contemporary economics to ideology.1 At bottom, these disputes concern a challenge, premised on an interpretation of the classical economists, to the orthodox2 conception of the process by which a modern capitalist...
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