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Justin Schwartz

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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...


Rights Of Inequality: Rawlsian Justice, Equal Opportunity, And The Status Of The Family, Justin Schwartz Jan 2001

Rights Of Inequality: Rawlsian Justice, Equal Opportunity, And The Status Of The Family, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

Is the family subject to principles of justice? In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls includes the (monogamous) family along with the market and the government as among the "basic institutions of society" to which principles of justice apply. Justice, he famously insists, is primary in politics as truth is in science: the only excuse for tolerating injustice is that no lesser injustice is possible. The point of the present paper is that Rawls doesn't actually mean this. When it comes to the family, and in particular its impact on fair equal opportunity (the first part of the the ...


In Defence Of Exploitation, Justin Schwartz Jan 1995

In Defence Of Exploitation, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

The concept of exploitation is thought to be central to Marx's Critique of capitalism. John Roemer, an analytical (then-) Marxist economist now at Yale, attacked this idea in a series of papers and books in the 1970s-1990s, arguing that Marxists should be concerned with inequality rather than exploitation -- with distribution rather than production, precisely the opposite of what Marx urged in The Critique of the Gotha Progam.

This paper expounds and criticizes Roemer's objections and his alternative inequality based theory of exploitation, while accepting some of his criticisms. It may be viewed as a companion paper to my ...


The Paradox Of Ideology, Justin Schwartz Jan 1993

The Paradox Of Ideology, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

A standard problem with the objectivity of social scientific theory in particular is that it is either self-referential, in which case it seems to undermine itself as ideology, or self-excepting, which seem pragmatically self-refuting. Using the example of Marx and his theory of ideology, I show how self-referential theories that include themselves in their scope of explanation can be objective. Ideology may be roughly defined as belief distorted by class interest. I show how Marx thought that natural science was informed by class interest but not therefore necessarily ideology. Capitalists have an interest in understanding the natural world (to a ...


Functional Explanation And Metaphysical Individualism, Justin Schwartz Jan 1993

Functional Explanation And Metaphysical Individualism, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

A number of (present or former) analytical Marxists, such as Jon Elster, have argued that functional explanation has almost no place in the social sciences. (Although the discussion is framed in terms of a debate among analytical Marxists, the point is quite general, and Marxism is used for illustrative purposes.) Functional explanation accounts for what is to be explained by reference to its function; thus, sighted organism have eyes because eyes enable them to see. Elster and other critics of functional explanation argue that this pattern of explanation is inconsistent with "methodological individualism," the idea, as they understand it, that ...


From Libertarianism To Egalitarianism, Justin Schwartz Jan 1992

From Libertarianism To Egalitarianism, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

A standard natural rights argument for libertarianism is based on the labor theory of property: the idea that I own my self and my labor, and so if I "mix" my own labor with something previously unowned or to which I have a have a right, I come to own the thing with which I have mixed by labor. This initially intuitively attractive idea is at the basis of the theories of property and the role of government of John Locke and Robert Nozick. Locke saw and Nozick agreed that fairness to others requires a proviso: that I leave "enough ...