For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Economic Basis of Deliberative Democracy"

by Cohen, Joshua (1989)

Abstract

There are two principal philosophical conceptions of socialism, corresponding to two interpretations of the notion of a rational society. The first conception corresponds to an instrumental view of social rationality. Captured by the image of socialism as “one big workshop,” the instrumental view holds that social ownership of the means of production is rational because it promotes the optimal development of the productive forces. Social ownership is optimal because it eliminates the costs of coordination imposed by the conduct of economic activities in formally independent enterprises, and, more generally, overcomes fetters on development that result from the control of resources by individuals whose particular interests (in profit) imperfectly correspond to a general interest in productive advance.

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