Abstract
I argued in Karl Marx's Theory of History that the central claims of historical materialism are functional explanations, and I said that functional explanations are consequence explanations, ones, that is, in which something is explained by its propensity to have a certain kind of effect. I also claimed that the theory of chance variation and natural selection sustains functional explanations, and hence consequence explanations, of organismic equipment. In Section I I defend the thesis that historical materialism offers functional or consequence explanations, and I reject Jon Elster's contention that game theory can, and should, assume a central role in the Marxist theory of society. In Section II I contrast functional and consequence explanation, thereby revising the position of Karl Marx's Theory of History, and I question whether evolutionary biology supports functional explanations. Section III is a critique of Elster's views on functional explanation, and Sections IV and V defend consequence explanation against metaphysical and epistemological doubts. A concluding section summarizes my present understanding of the status of historical materialist explanations
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201748208601953
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,008
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

Rationality, Irrationality and Functionalist Explanation.Russell Hardin - 1980 - Social Science Information 19 (4-5):755-772.
Marx's Interpretation of History.Melvin Miller Rader - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Functions in Jurisprudential Methodology.Kenneth Ehrenberg - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):447-456.
Naturalistische Zumutungen.Hannes Rusch - 2014 - Aufklärung Und Kritik 2014 (1):103-122.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

When Functions and Causes Compete.Daniel Heussen - 2010 - Thinking and Reasoning 16 (3):233-250.
Viability Explanation.Arno Wouters - 1995 - Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
Functional Explanation and Metaphysical Individualism.Justin Schwartz - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (2):278-301.
Historical Materialism and Functional Explanation.Allen W. Wood - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):11 – 27.
Can Intentional and Functional Explanations of Actions Coexist?Rob Vanderbeeken - 2006 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 9:143-147.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-30

Total views
184 ( #63,579 of 2,505,176 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #102,841 of 2,505,176 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes