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Recent Interpretations of Karl Marx’s Social Theory

An Essay on Habermas, Cohen and Elster


Richard Ruey-Chyi Hwang

This book seeks, on the one hand, to examine Habermas’ work on the reconstruction of historical materialism and Cohen’s and Elster’s analyses of the topic; on the other, to compare, contrast, and criticize their work. They respond to the political and theoretical crises of contemporary Marxism. Habermas’ response is to overcome economism and to stress normative structure and communication; Cohen’s reaction is to go back to the orthodoxy of Marxism with analytical philosophy; and Elster reacts by re-analyzing Marxian basic concepts with the analytical tools of the modern social sciences. In short, they all acknowledge the continual relevance of Marxism, but also state that Marxism in general, or historical materialism in particular, needs revision in various ways.
Contents: Habermas’ Reconstruction of Historical Materialism – Cohen’s Analytical Marxism – Elster’s Rational-Choice and Game-Theoretical Marxism.