Nominalism and Systemism: On the Non-Reductionist Nature of Methodological Individualism
This paper investigates the systemic nature of methodological individualism. According to widespread belief, the notion of autonomy of the actor that is defended by methodological individualism is mistaken because it is incompatible with the study of society in terms of its organized structure. We argue that this viewpoint must be rejected. In our opinion, it stems from confusion between ontological nominalism – the idea that superhuman collective entities do not exist – and reductionism. In contrast, we would argue that methodological individualism is a form of nominalist structuralism. Following Hayek, Popper and Boudon, we will maintain that methodological individualism is not incompatible with the reference to systemic and irreducible properties. As these authors stressed, the history of methodological individualism is full of examples of non-reductionist explanations that undermine the widespread theory of the equivalence between methodological individualism and reductionism. We will state, therefore, that the current debate about methodological individualism is often based on a caricature of the concept of methodological individualism that does not match its correct meaning. In addition, we will provide a criticism of the notion of “structural individualism” that is becoming increasingly popular among social scientists.
|Date of creation:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Center for the History of Political Economy Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097|
Phone: (919) 660-6899
Web page: http://hope.econ.duke.edu
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2013-7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.