A critique of the technological interpretation of historical materialism

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 22 (2):157-186 (1992)
This essay examines and criticizes G. A. Cohen's interpretation of Marx's materialistic conception of history as presented in Cohen's book Karl Marx's Theory of History. In particular, the author attacks Cohen's Primacy Thesis, the claim that (for Marx) human technology is the primary explanatory factor for economic and social change and for historical development generally. The focus of the attack is Cohen's way of distinguishing between the material and social characteristics, or the content and form, of a system of production. The argument is that Cohen's distinctions are defective and therefore fail to provide adequate support for the Primacy Thesis and that, moreover, the position that Cohen defends is not Marx's.
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DOI 10.1177/004839319202200201
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