rational choice theory? -Reply

Lisa Rogers EQDOMAIN.EQWQ.LROGERS at email.state.ut.us
Mon Apr 3 15:15:37 MDT 1995


Fellini, it's good to meet you again, on the big list this time.

My lack of knowledge about RCT may be showing, but would you mind
explaining how it is the base for Justin's argument?  And [maybe this
is a can of worms] what's wrong with RCT anyway?  Briefly?

Thanks, Lisa Rogers

>>> <fellini at keynes.econ.utah.edu>  4/3/95, 01:57pm >>>

Just a quick observation about Justin's argument. He wrote:

>  Once this is understood, if it is agreeable, then we see that even
 >  if there is a directionality to history, towards socialism or  >
whatever, that does not settle the question whether history is  >
progressive. Here, though, is an argument that history _is_  >
progressive and directional. If domination means that some groups  >
have more power than others to promote their own interests at the  >
expense of others, and people tend to act on   >  their own group
interests in the long run, then over time  >  domination will  be
opposed by groups whose interests are trampled.  >  There is no
guarantee that any given group will have the power to  >  oppose its
own domination successfully, but if domination is ever  >
effectively resisted, the advantages won by successful resistance  >
will come be regarded as rights and will be given up only with great
>  difficulty. In the very long run, success will build on success
and  >  domination will be progressively restricted and limited in
kind and  >  degree. Reversions are possible, but resistance to
domination based  >  on group interest provides a mechanism for long
run historical  >  progressive change.

If I understand Justin's point correctly, he simply repeats Eric Olin
 Wright's (or others' like Elster) argument in, for example:

Erik Olin Wright, "Giddens's Critique of Marxism," _New Left Review_,
No. 138 (March-April 1983), pp. 5-35. (for a revised version of it:
"Models of Historical Trajectory: an Assessment of Giddens's Critique
of  Marxism," _Social Theory of Modern Societies: Anthony Giddens and
his  Critics_, David Held and John B. Thompson, Cambridge UP, 1989,
pp. 77-102).

This is a powerful argument (provided that 'progress' always requires
a  'vantage point' from which some change is assessed), but what I
don't  like in it is that it is based on Rational Choice Theory
(RCT), albeit  an aggregated version of it. And I believe RCT has
nothing to do with  Marxism; we should get rid of it.

Regards,

Fellini


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