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Marx and Morality

category international | anti-capitalism | opinion/analysis author Sunday January 10, 2016 10:22author by Paddy Hackett Report this post to the editors

Is Marxist morality materialist?

Marx's morality is not materialist

Exploitation of labour power and alienation are the twin basis for the rejection of capitalism. The rejection of capitalism on this basis is a moral rejection of capitalism by Marxism. Exploitation and alienation are moral facts.

The moral rejection of capitalism is therefore based on intuitionism. This is because Marxism intuitively rejects both exploitation and alienation on moral grounds. In other words Marxism is morally opposed to exploitation and alienation because human intuition posits them as morally wrong.

Marxism, therefore, is a morality based on intuitionism. It does not, therefore, constitute a materialist morality.

The only materialist argument is one based on evolutionary psychology. Within this context it might be argued that the rejection of exploitation and alienation by Marxism is a product of human evolution. In other words hard wired into the brain is a rejection of exploitation and alienation. Given that such a rejection would have to be a product of a particular evolution that took place in the Stone Age it is hardly likely that such a cognitive adaptation took place. This is the only argument possible, in my view, for an acceptable materialist theory of Marxist morality. However, in my view, it hardly makes for a plausible theory.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Sat Jan 16, 2016 22:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There CANNOT be a (purely) materialist based morality.

Materialism can only generate "is" statements. Any proposed system of morality must inlcude at least one statement relating "is" to "ought"

However you were wrong to conclude that Marxist morality had to be based on "intuitionism". Most of the other "schools" are also possible bases. Nor would intuitionism be my first guess. Utilitarianism a more likely starting point. But like I said, could probably get to Marxist sort of conclusions from most of the others too.

Oddly enough, I don't think the "evolutionary biology" thinking can lead us to a PARTICULAR specific morality. Don't get me wrong, I believe that our evolution as social animals HAS given us some built in "short cut morality calculators". But the experiments that seem to back this up also indicate that they act in peculiar fashion relative to our rational thought processes (*). Only good for situations that can trigger the "instant moral decision calculator" >

* In Ethics we are SUPPOSED to reach the same conclusions for situations where we can't explain a rational basis for considering the cases to be different. But apparently, if one of these cases can trigger one of our "shortcut calculators" but the other can't, people sometimes do feel the answers should be different (though they can;t give a REASON why).

 
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