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Meanings of methodological individualism

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  • Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Abstract

Advocacy of 'methodological individualism' is widespread, especially among economists. However, the term is rarely defined with adequate precision and some crucial ambiguities are explored in this article. Among these is the commonplace ambivalence over whether explanations should be in terms of individuals alone, or in terms of individuals plus relations between them. It is shown that a great deal hinges on this subtle and often overlooked distinction in explanantia. In particular, explanations in terms of individuals alone have never, as yet, been achieved. Furthermore, the more feasible version of explanations in terms of individuals plus relations between them amounts to the introduction of social structure alongside individuals in the explanantia. Serious questions remain whether this version warrants the one-sided emphasis on individuals in the term 'methodological individualism'. JEL Classifications: B20, B40, B41

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 211-226

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:14:y:2007:i:2:p:211-226

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Related research

Keywords: methodological individualism; social relations; social structures; Joseph Schumpeter;

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Cited by:
  1. Paul Lewis, 2011. "Far from a nihilistic crowd: The theoretical contribution of radical subjectivist Austrian economics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 185-198, June.
  2. Andrea Migone, 2011. "Embedded markets: A dialogue between F.A. Hayek and Karl Polanyi," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 355-381, December.
  3. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2014. "The evolution of morality and the end of economic man," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 83-106, January.
  4. Alberto Battistini, 2013. "A note on the difference between human and non-human productive factors: Comments on ‘Love, war, and culture: An institutional approach to human evolution’," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 67-70, April.
  5. Hatice Karaçay Çakmak, 2010. "Can the Capability Approach be Evaluated within the Frame of Mainstream Economics? A Methodological Analysis," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 57(1), pages 85-99, March.
  6. Panayotis G. Michaelides & Kostas Theologou, 2010. "Tarde's influence on Schumpeter: technology and social evolution," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 361-373, May.
  7. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjoern Knudsen, 2012. "Agreeing on generalised Darwinism: a response to Pavel Pelikan," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 9-18, January.
  8. Aoki, Masahiko, 2011. "Institutions as cognitive media between strategic interactions and individual beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 20-34, June.
  9. Radosevic, Slavo & Yoruk, Esin, 2013. "Entrepreneurial propensity of innovation systems: Theory, methodology and evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1015-1038.
  10. Leppälä, Samuli & Desrochers, Pierre, 2010. "The division of labor need not imply regional specialization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 137-147, May.
  11. Lambais, GBR & Silveira, JMFJ & Magalhães, MM, 2010. "Reforma Agrária, Eficiência e Mudança Institutional no Campo: análise teórica e de fronteira estocástica com dados em painel (1998-2006)
    [Land Reform, Efficiency and Rural Institutional Chang
    ," MPRA Paper 30741, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Zaman, Md Monowaruz, 2010. "An Unbiased Pareto Improvement strategy for poverty alleviation," MPRA Paper 27800, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2010. "Choice, habit and evolution," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 1-18, January.

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