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Inviting the Vampire in: Value and Thermodynamic Depth

Quentin, Clair, Butler-Cole, Ben (2023) Inviting the Vampire in: Value and Thermodynamic Depth. Science & Society, 87 (2). pp. 234-260. ISSN 0036-8237. (doi:10.1521/siso.2023.87.2.234) (KAR id:100817)


We refute the objection raised against Marx's theory of value by Philip Mirowski (that it is an internally inconsistent amalgam of the substance and social model of value) by identifying value insofar as it subsists between production and exchange with the property in statistical mechanics known as thermodynamic depth. In production, concrete labor time is converted into the thermodynamic depth embodied in commodities. In exchange, the thermodynamic depth of commodities is converted back into time again, albeit, at this point in the circuit, the time into which it is converted is socially necessary labor time, i.e., abstract labor. Consistently with the social model of value, value increases can (as Mirowski points out) arise where changes in the conversion factor between time and thermodynamic depth take place between production and exchange, but (consistently with the substance model) the thermodynamic depth of commodities can only be increased in production.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1521/siso.2023.87.2.234
Uncontrolled keywords: value theory, value, abstract labor, thermodynamic depth
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: King's College London (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2023 14:22 UTC
Last Modified: 03 May 2024 07:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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