Against teleological historical materialism

Inquiry 25 (4):451 – 469 (1982)
Marx may be taken to hold that productive forces (e.g. the steam engine) explain productive relations (e.g. capitalism) more than the other way on, and that productive relations explain superstructures (e.g. the legal system) more than the other way on. There are no satisfactory standard causal understandings of these claims about explanatory primacy. That is, no standard causal understanding saves Marx from the traditional objection that relations very greatly affect forces, and superstructures very greatly affect relations. One satisfactorily articulated attempt to save Marx has been the attempt to understand the claims teleologically. Three such understandings can be distinguished, but they do not work. The first fails since it attempts to explain events by way of abstract objects. The second fails since it attempts to explain a thing by means of that thing. The third fails for a related reason. Each understanding also fails for another reason as fundamental. So?called teleological explanations are in fact claims that standard causal explanations exist, which relevant explanations conflict with the ruling idea of Marx's philosophy, that history is somehow independent of men's consciousness and wills. There may be no evidence that Marx himself intended historical materialism to be understood teleologically. There may be evidence against
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201748208601980
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,037
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jon Elster (1986). Ulysses and the Sirens. Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (1):82-95.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

8 ( #409,756 of 1,934,423 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #434,207 of 1,934,423 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.