The Scientific Marx
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The Scientific Marx was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Marx advanced Capital to the public as a scientific explanation of the capitalist economy, intending it to be evaluated by ordinary standards of scientific adequacy. Today, however, most commentators emphasize Marx's humanism or his theory of historical materialism over his scientific claims. The Scientific Marx thus represents a break with many current views of Marx's analysis of capitalism in that it takes seriously his claim that Capital is a rigorous scientific investigation of the capitalist mode of production. Daniel Little discusses the main features of Marx's account, applying the tools of contemporary philosophy of science.
He analyzes Marx's views on theory and explanation in the social sciences, the logic of Marx's empirical practices, the relation between Capital and historical materialism, the centrality of micro-foundations in Marx's analysis, and the minimal role that dialectics plays in his scientific method. Throughout, Little relies on "evidence taken from Marx's actual practice as a social scientist rather than from his explicit methodological writings." The book contributes to current controversies in the literature of "analytic Marxism" joined by such authors as Jon Elster, G.A. Cohen, and John Roemer.
his account involves the description of a variety of the institutions and social relations of production underlying the capitalist economy. This portrayal constitutes the foundation of the predictions Marx makes in the context of his scientific study of capitalism. In chapter 5 we considered the logical form of the explanations Marx constructs on the basis of this analysis and, consequently, the logical basis of his forecasts. There it was found that Marx's explanations are rigorous deductive
science than they are in typical natural sciences. Similarly Derek Sayer judges that Marx makes "prognoses" rather than predictions. "By a prognosis I mean a hypothesis as to the likely course of future events that, although well-grounded in our analysis of the conditions and mechanisms underpinning present phenomena, cannot be generated out of this analysis by simple deduction. . . . By a prediction, on the other hand, I mean something very much more precise. A prediction is a deduction of what
(M-C-M') that characterizes capitalist production is extensively analyzed in chapter 4 ("The General Formula of Capital"). The logic of accumulation is discussed in chapters 24 and 25; the coercive requirement of maximizing profits is described in chapters 10 (esp. pp. 340-44) and 12; and the logic of competition is recognized throughout (e.g., in Marx's discussion of the requirement of equal rates of profit in different industries; Capital HI, chapters 9 and 10). Institutional Logic Two
fruits of production are distributed. "The various stages of development in the division of labour are just so many different forms of ownership, i.e. the existing stage of the division of labour determines also the relations of individuals to one another with reference to the material, instrument, and product of labour" (G7, p. 43). These relations include the system of property and the system of the control of labor: ownership of means of production, tools, and labor power (capitalism);
apparent from these remarks that essentialism represents an explanatory paradigm for Marx in at least two senses. First, it demonstrates his commitment to a science that explains the phenomena of capitalism rather than merely describing them. And second, it postulates a model of explanation: To explain a phenomenon, it is necessary to discover the institutions or mechanisms that give rise to it, the laws governing these mechanisms, and the processes through which those mechanisms give rise to