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Monday, April 19, 2021

ODDS AND ENDS

Several very recent comments have raised questions about game theory and about Analytical Marxism.   Since I have written online an entire short book on the use of formal methods in political philosophy in which I talk at some length about game theory, I will simply point those who are interested to that book, which is archived at box.net, accessible via the link at the top of this page.  As for Analytical Marxism, I will refer those who are interested to the review I wrote of a book by the smartest and most interesting of that crew, Jon Elster, also available at box.net.


I feel a little bit like the over the hill lounge pianist noodling away at the piano and saying, every so often, "and then I wrote," before going into some old tune.

4 comments:

R McD said...

I don’t mean to flog a dead horse, but someone might be interested in what is somewhat of a side issue to, e.g., the Elster review. It is a response to a previous thread, in particular to LFC’s response at 10:02 PM on April 18 to my comment that the so-called rational Marxists mostly ended up rejecting Marxism. When I wrote that I was vaguely recollecting the following passage from an interview with Adam Przeworski (NYU):

Q: Another group you’ve been closely involved with is the Analytical Marxist group. What was the basic agenda of this group?

A: The group was dedicated to subjecting Marxism to the scrutiny of the methods of contemporary social science. The idea was to take Marxism and see how much and what parts of it hold up when you apply to it the same standards of inference and evidence applied to any other theory. . . I joined the Analytical Marxist group in1979 or 1980 . . . and I stayed until the mid 1990s. when John Elster and I left. I very much enjoyed it and learned a tremendous amount from it. But I eventually left because I thought we had accomplished our intellectual program . . . We ultimately found that not much of Marxism is left and there really wasn’t much more to learn. . . .


The whole interview is quite interesting:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=bnl1LmVkdXxhZGFtLXByemV3b3Jza2l8Z3g6NjczM2QzMGU0MDczNmIxNg


The following note, 29, from Michael Burawoy, “A Tale of Two Marxisms; Remembering Erik Olin Wright (1947-2019),” [ accessible at http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Marxism/A%20Tale%20of%20Two%20Marxisms.NLR.pdf ] is relevant:

“Erik and I diverged over the significance of Analytical Marxism. To be sure, some of the early works remain Marxist classics such as G. A. Cohen’s Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence (1978), and Przeworski’s Capitalism and Social Democracy(1985), but the group soon lost interest in Marxism. Only Erik sustained a com-mitment to Marxism, and still remained a key figure in the ‘September Group’, as it came to be renamed, relishing the intellectual exchange. From the beginning I was sceptical of Analytical Marxism’s adoption of methodological individualism and rational-choice theory—and criticized the work of Jon Elster, Sam Bowles, Herb Gintis and Przeworski for forcing Marxism into a methodological straitjacket based on spurious micro-foundations and mythological individualism. This was not the way to reconstruct Marxism, I argued, but to end it. See Burawoy, ‘Making Nonsense of Marx’, Contemporary Sociology, vol. 15, no. 5, 1986; ‘Should We Give Up on Socialism? Reflections on Capitalism and Democracy’, Socialist Review, vol. 89, no. 1, 1989; ‘Marxism without Micro-Foundations: Przeworski’s Critique of Social Democracy’, Socialist Review, vol. 89, no. 2, 1989; ‘Analytical Marxism—A Metaphysical Marxism’, Häften för kritiska studier, vol. 22, no. 2, 1989; ‘Mythological Individualism’, in Terrell Carver and Paul Thomas, eds, Rational Choice Marxism, London1995.”

LFC said...

I have a feeling, admittedly without having reviewed the extant literature, that there may be a possibly interesting diss. topic here for a grad student in intellectual history and/or political theory - namely, the history of that 'movement' and the various paths taken by its adherents.

P.s. Katrina Forrester's _In the Shadow of Justice_ has some discussion of this but it's only one part of one chapter in the book, and focuses mostly on J. Roemer and G.A. Cohen, as I recall.

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