By Jon Elster

ISBN-10: 052133831X

ISBN-13: 9780521338318

A concise and complete advent to Marx's social, political and financial suggestion for the start scholar. Jon Elster surveys in flip all of the major issues of marxist inspiration: technique, alienation, economics, exploitation, historic materialism, sessions, politics, and beliefs; in a last bankruptcy he assesses 'what resides and what's useless within the philosophy of Marx'. The emphasis all through is at the analytical constitution of Marx's arguments and the technique is without delay sympathetic, undogmatic, and rigorous.

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This difference is related to the difference between Marx's ethical individualism and Hegel's ethical holism. Consistently with his methodological holism, Hegel believed that the creation of an organic community was a value in itself, over and above what valuable consequences it 42 Lack of Self-realization might have for individual men. Marx. on the other hand. took opposed stances on the methodological and ethical issues. ALIENATION: LACK OF SELF-REALIZATION Marx believed that the good life for the individual was one of active self-realization.

I should add, however, that in both cases there is one obstacle to a purely rational-choice interpretation of these texts. This is his tendency to deploy functional explanation, in which events and institutions are explained on the grounds that they are better for some agent or agents but not necessarily on the grounds that they are chosen because they are better. FUNCTIONAL EXPLANATION IN MARXISM Functional explanation is puzzling and controversial, for reasons that may be brought out by comparing it with other modes of scientific explanation.

In the former, the workers clearly have a choice between two options. But if they have a choice in the first situation, they must also have one in the second; the existence of choice cannot be removed by improving one of the options. A somewhat different argument establishes the reality of capitalist choice in a competitive market. When capitalists, under the pressure of competition, survey alternative modes of action and go through extensive calculation to find the most profitable, they engage in the very paradigm of choice behavior.

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An Introduction to Karl Marx by Jon Elster


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