methodological individualism


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methodological individualism

theoretical positions holding that adequate sociological accounts necessarily involve reference to persons, their interpretations of their circumstances, and the reasons and motives for the actions they take. WEBER and POPPER both propose specifications by which all social categories, like ‘capitalism’ or ‘the state’, can be explicated by reference to real or abstract (‘idealized’) individuals or persons. In its more strident forms, methodological individualism proposes that all sociological explanations must begin and end with reference to individuals. To this, the standard objection is that individuals usually owe many of their defining features, e.g. of psychological disposition, to their cultures and their structural contexts, so the proposed termination is sociologically banal.

For a discussion of the issues see Lukes (1977). See also SITUATIONAL LOGIC AND SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS, HOLISM, STRATEGIC INTERACTION. Compare STRUCTURALISM, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY.

References in periodicals archive ?
Methodological individualism is the backbone of modern social, political, and economic analysis.
On the other hand, methodological individualism is the main instrument of researchers in studying the epistemology of social sciences today and represents a consequence of nominalism as intellectual attitude and method of research: the fact that in analysing social phenomena, only the individual who possesses his autonomous intentions and possibilities has explicative value.
Skarbek adheres to methodological individualism by investigating the unique incentives and knowledge limitations faced by rationally motivated inmates.
This approach differs from Piketty's methodological individualism because the targets of policy are less individuals--or not exclusively individuals--and more organizations and institutions.
The microfoundations project is inherently reductionist, for the simple reason that methodological individualism is a core element of mainstream economics in all its variants.
Austrian Economics, or more precisely the Austrian School of Economics, is unique in providing a theoretical framework which, although distinctly different from Walrasian general equilibrium, rests on methodological individualism and the assumption of rationality of economic agents, two pillars of neoclassical economics, and leads to policy conclusions that are located to the "right" of the mainstream in pleading for unfettered markets, free trade and minimal government.
The stakes of this reunion are that "they both offer rigorous and profound alternatives to the methodological individualism of liberalism.
Methodological individualism, rational behaviour, equilibrium and perfect information of a consumer are next features of this concept.
The paper starts with a discussion of core assumptions of the standard model of formal semantics, in particular methodological individualism and methodological psychologism, and then argues that this model is lacking as an empirical discipline because these assumptions force core concepts, such as competence, semantic facts, and the methodology of intuitions that is based on them, to be constructed as improper idealizations from actual phenomena that disregard their heterogeneous nature.
In the field of knowledge all the forms of specialism such as methodological individualism, system theory, gnoseological realism, constructivism and positivism share, according to Castoriadis, a common metaphysical logic: the identitary logic that has defined the statute of philosophy and its hereditary ontological categories.
As Sartwell points out, although Warren's ontological and methodological individualism makes him one of the most extreme of the American anarchists, it simultaneously places him within a long and august tradition that includes Heraclitus, the Cynics, the medieval nominalists, Thomas Reid and other Scottish common sense philosophers of the eighteenth century, Emerson, Nietzsche and Heidegger (p.
Given the complex interplay between collective organization and individual participation, Osiel suggests that the primary challenge to the legal system in addressing crimes of collective wrongdoing is to overcome the limitations of methodological individualism within criminal law.