Historical materialism and functional explanation


Authors
Allen Wood
Indiana University, Bloomington
Abstract
This paper is a critical examination of one central theme in Jon Elster's Making Sense of Marx; Elster's defense of ?methodological individualism? in social science and his related critique of Marx's use of ?functional explanation?. The paper does not quarrel with Elster's claim that the particular instances of functional explanation advanced by Marx are defective; what it criticizes is Elster's attempt to raise principled, philosophical objections to this type of explanation in the social sciences. It is argued that Elster's philosophical critique of functional explanation rests on a caricature of this kind of explanation, just as his critique of Marx's use of teleology in the philosophy of history rests on a caricature of the kinds of teleological claims Marx is concerned to make. The paper ends with a brief discussion of a recently published passage from Marx's notebooks of 1861?1863, where Elster claims to have found Marx explicitly criticizing capitalist exploitation as an injustice to the workers
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201748608602077
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,483
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

Methodological Individualism and Social Explanation.Richard W. Miller - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):387-414.
Functional Explanation, Consequence Explanation, and Marxism.G. A. Cohen - 1982 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):27 – 56.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Is It Worth Making Sense of Marx?Douglass C. North - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):57 – 63.
Functional Explanation and Metaphysical Individualism.Justin Schwartz - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (2):278-301.
Elster's Marx.Michael Taylor - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):3 – 10.
Making Sense of Elster.Cliff Slaughter - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):45 – 56.
Making Nonsense of Marx.Scott Meikle - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):29 – 43.
Reply to Comments.Jon Elster - 1986 - Theory and Society 29 (1-4):65 – 77.
Viability Explanation.Arno Wouters - 1995 - Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
G. A. Cohen's Functional Explanation: A Critical Realist Analysis.Joly Agar - 2003 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (3):291-310.
Functional Explanation, Consequence Explanation, and Marxism.G. A. Cohen - 1982 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):27 – 56.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-30

Total views
53 ( #167,028 of 2,286,539 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #595,991 of 2,286,539 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature