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Marx on the compatibility of freedom and necessity: A reply to David James

Kandiyali, Jan (2017) 'Marx on the compatibility of freedom and necessity: A reply to David James.', European journal of philosophy., 25 (3). pp. 833-839.


In a recent paper, David James argues for a new understanding of the compatibility of freedom and necessity in Marx's idea of a communist society. According to James, such compatibility has less to do with anything distinctive about the nature of labour and more to do with how communist producers organize the sphere of material production. In this paper, I argue that James provides a nuanced and plausible account of one part of Marx's story of the compatibility of freedom and necessity in communist society but that his account misses another, and, in my view, more fundamental part of the story. The part I have in mind centres on Marx's claim that communist producers achieve their freedom through the performance of necessary labour—by helping others to satisfy their needs. I argue that Marx is committed to a stronger claim than James wishes to make, namely, that freedom and necessity are not merely compatible but that participation in the realm of necessity is required for human freedom.

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Publisher statement:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Kandiyali, Jan (2017). Marx on the compatibility of freedom and necessity: A reply to David James. European Journal of Philosophy 25(3): 833-839., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Date accepted:30 May 2017
Date deposited:24 September 2021
Date of first online publication:10 August 2017
Date first made open access:24 September 2021

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