Philosophy and the study of capitalism

Philosophy and Social Criticism 49 (1):18-34 (2023)
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Abstract

Sociologists, economists, historians, anthropologists, political theorists, and literary critics have all turned their attention to the study of capitalism. But philosophers remain much less engaged. Why is this? And what could philosophy bring to the study of capitalism? Could it help in the development of a general theory? My main argument here is that philosophy does have an important role to play in the study of capitalism, particularly if we want to develop a general theory. Philosophers must describe something that is peculiar to capitalism, in philosophical terms, which has not been explained by sociological, economic, or psychological means. This subject matter does exist: it is the nature of rationality within capitalism. I suggest that this can best be explained by using the theory of the space of reasons, which helps to show how rational human practices shape social and economic institutions, and how our form of rationality is in turn shaped by those practices and institutions.

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Justin Evans
University of Illinois, Chicago

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References found in this work

Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.
Critique of Forms of Life.Rahel Jaeggi - 2018 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Phenomenalism.Wilfrid Sellars - 1963 - In Science, Perception, and Reality. Humanities Press. pp. 60-105.

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