Marx's predictions

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Sun Apr 29 11:59:14 MDT 2001

On Sun, 29 Apr 2001 13:45:47 -0400 "Xxxx Xxxxxx"
<xxxxxxxxxx at> writes:
> ----------
> Some form of  positivism is necessary for marxism. Otherwise,
> marxist
> theory faces a danger of lacking any predictive power or moving in
> the
> direction post modernism/social constructivism.

Concerning positivism, it is interesting to note that
Russell Keat in his 1981 book _The Politics of Social Theory_
provided the following typology of positivist theses in social theory:

1). The 'scientist' thesis which asserts that science alone represents
a genuine form of human knowledge. That all legitimate human
knowledge is science.

2). The positivist conception of science which holds that science aims
at the explanation and prediction of observable phenomena by
treating them as instances of universal natural laws. What Carl
Hempel referred to as the covering-law model of scientific
explanation is adhered to. The scientific validity of
describing natural laws is assessed solely in terms of their
logical relationships to other statements describing observation
data. The positivist conception of science was developed over
the years by such thinkers as Berkeley, Hume, Comte, J.S. Mill,
Ernst Mach and in this century by the logical positivists
Schlick, Carnap, Feigl, Reichenbach and Frank amongst others

3). The advocacy of a scientific politics, that is the ideal that
can provide rational solutions to all problems concerning the
organization of society and that such decisions can be freed from
nonscientific influences. This view can be traced back to Lord
Bacon. In the last century Saint-Simon and August Comte were
very notable exponents of scientific politics, and in this century
there have been a host of thinkers who have subscribed to it.

4). The doctrine of value-freedom which is the doctrine that is both
possible and necessary to separate out the realm of science
from the realms of moral and political values. The validity of
scientific theories does not depend on the acceptance or
rejection of any particular moral or political commitments.
Science is therefore 'value-free.' This doctrine can be found
the writings of Hume, Kant and Mill but its greatest exponent
in the social sciences was probably Max Weber.

These four positivist theses are logically independent of each
other. There have been many thinkers who subscribed to only
one or two of these theses while rejecting the others. Thus,
Popper rejected the first thesis - the 'scientist' thesis while
subscribing to a modified version of the second one and largely
rejecting the ideal of a scientific politics as being incompatible with
an "open society." Many people have subscribed to a positivist
conception of science while rejecting the 'scientist' thesis.
Althusser seems to have largely subscribed to the first thesis
but seems to have rejected a positivist conception of science
while subscribing to a variant of the ideal of a scientific politics.
Weber as pointed out before defended the third thesis (the
value-freedom thesis) and he held to a positivist conception of
science but he rejected the possibility of a scientific politics
in favor of a decisionsm.

> bye, Xxxx
> ---
> Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
> Ph.D Student
> Department of Political Science
> SUNY at Albany
> Nelson A. Rockefeller College
> 135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
> Albany, NY 12222

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