Ideology, Rationality, and Revolution : An Essay on the Persistence of Oppression

Sammanfattning: This essay is concerned with two explanations of why oppressive social orders persist. According to the first, the so-called gunman theory of oppression (GT), these social orders persist because the oppressed are afraid being punished if they participated in a revolt. According to the second, the so-called ideology theory of oppression (IT), oppression persists because the oppressed are subject to ideology. Traditionally, the former has been associated with rational choice theory, and the latter with Marxism and critical theory. Analytical philosophers have been suspicious of IT since it involves functional claims. This essay shows that it is possible to make sense of both IT and its associated functional claim within the framework of rational choice theory. Chapter one provides an overview of the discussion and a presentation of the general argument against IT. Chapter two specifies the explanandum for the two theories in more detail. The chapter concludes with a description of three real-life persistent oppressive social orders. In chapter three, the basics of rational choice theory are introduced and GT spelled out. Some problems for the theory are identified and then dealt with. It is concluded that GT does a good job at explaining the persistence of tyrannies. Chapter four argues that ideology is necessary to provide satisfactory explanations of the other two cases of oppression described in chapter two. The chapter concludes with a specification of IT where the functional claim is made explicit. Chapter five defends Gerald Cohen's account of functional explanations against a dilemma formulated by Ann Cudd. In chapter six, three mechanisms are provided that indicate how the functional claim of IT can be demystified. Chapter seven concludes by indicating a statistical method for testing IT and describing some policy implications.