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Sraffa on the Degeneration of the Notion of Cost

Saverio Fratini ()

No CSWP21, Centro Sraffa Working Papers from Centro di Ricerche e Documentazione "Piero Sraffa"

Abstract: The paper reconstructs the history of what Sraffa called the ‘degeneration of cost’ as emerges from his manuscripts of the late 1920s. In particular, Sraffa regards the Physiocrats as having the correct idea of cost as being the commodities that allow workers to subsist. The classical economists measured this bundle of commodi-ties in terms of labour, which they also ambiguously viewed as ‘toil and trouble’. Then, the idea of labour as ‘toil and trouble’ was indicated by neoclassical authors as an anticipation of their conception of cost as a sacrifice. Conferring also upon abstinence from consumption the nature of sacrifice, the neoclassical-marginalist theory understood wages and interest as compensation for the disutility of working and saving. Then, cost was ultimately seen as what induces workers and capitalists to produce. This completed the degeneration of cost from the objective-physical conception of the Physiocrats to the subjective-psychological view of the neoclassical school.

Keywords: cost; economic methodology; Sraffa; Sraffa’s manuscripts (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B12 B13 B41 B51 D24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-pke
Date: 2016-08
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3) Track citations by RSS feed

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ris:sraffa:0021

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