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Is Marx a moral philosopher - Essay Example

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A look into Marxian philosophy proves that it is strongly based on the concept of justice and morality. However, the mere fact is that Marx himself was not aware of the influence of the basic tenets of morality while developing his own philosophy, and this may be the reason that very little does he mention about morality; …
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Is Marx a moral philosopher
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Download file to see previous pages As Cohen (1978, cited in Joshua, Cohan, 1982) rightly points it out; Marx was unaware of the element of morality in his philosophy. So, he failed to discuss morality. Thus, it becomes evident that morality is not at all explicit in Marxian philosophy. So, this work intends to analyze what implicit morality is inherent in Marxian philosophy.
The first question addressed here is why Marx explicitly denied the applicability of morality in his philosophy. In order to understand the reason, one has to go back to the nineteenth century where, according to Marx and other critical philosophers, ‘exploitative economic arrangement’ was the major facet of the society. In that situation, morality and ethics were just false consciousness that was well-molded to fit into the exploitative regime of capitalism. So, it was necessary for him to declare that morality (as it existed in the capitalist society) does not deserve to be preserved. Instead, he declares that he would constitute morality on a new basis. Thus, it becomes evident that morality in Marxian philosophy can only be understood from the reasons he uses to declare capitalism as unjust and communism as just.

As Rawls and Freeman, 2007, p. 320) describes, the very first argument put forward by Marx against capitalism is that it is based on the exploitation of the worker. In other words, he declares that capitalism is not an arena that offers mutual benefit but it involves systematic extraction of profit from one group (ibid). However, the trouble at this juncture is that Marx does not declare in clear terms that such an exchange is unjust. Instead, he declares that it is ‘by no means an injustice’ in his Capital (Marx, 1939l). In the words of Wood (1981, p.91), it is natural to see such an attitude from the part of Marx because he could not achieve a trans-epochal standpoint from where he could comment on the justice of that economic system. In other words, he was not free from the bounds of historical materialism. So, according to him, morality purely involved the stabilising of economic structure (ibid). However, a more rational explanation seems to appear from Husami (1978) who argues that it is possible to see that Marx thought capitalism unjust even in the absence of explicit words. It is pointed out by the scholar that for Marx, there are two sets of ideas; that of the ruling class and that of the non-ruling class. In a capitalist society, the ideas of the ruling class receive attention and approval. On the other hand, in a communist society, the ideas of the proletariat receive more attention. According to Marx, the latter is the right way (ibid); and capitalism is unjust. In addition, one can see the use of words like ‘embezzlement’, ‘robbery’ and ‘exploitation’ to explain capitalism. According to Cohen (1978, cited in Joshua, Cohan, 1982), these words are sufficient to reach the conclusion that for Marx, capitalism was unjust and hence against morality. Thus, the scholar points out that Marx, like many others, did not have adequate knowledge about his own mind. Thus, throughout the explicit response, he managed to avoid calling capitalism as ‘unjust’. In the words of Hampsher-Monk (1992, p. 487), the idea comes more than evident through the overall sense of the texts. At least, the analysis is sufficient to rea ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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