David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 166 (1):187-213 (2009)
The thesis of methodological individualism in social science is commonly divided into two different claims—explanatory individualism and ontological individualism. Ontological individualism is the thesis that facts about individuals exhaustively determine social facts. Initially taken to be a claim about the identity of groups with sets of individuals or their properties, ontological individualism has more recently been understood as a global supervenience claim. While explanatory individualism has remained controversial, ontological individualism thus understood is almost universally accepted. In this paper I argue that ontological individualism is false. Only if the thesis is weakened to the point that it is equivalent to physicalism can it be true, but then it fails to be a thesis about the determination of social facts by facts about individual persons. Even when individualistic facts are expanded to include people’s local environments and practices, I shall argue, those still underdetermine the social facts that obtain. If true, this has implications for explanation as well as ontology. I first consider arguments against the local supervenience of social facts on facts about individuals, correcting some flaws in existing arguments and affirming that local supervenience fails for a broad set of social properties. I subsequently apply a similar approach to defeat a particularly weak form of global supervenience, and consider potential responses. Finally, I explore why it is that people have taken ontological individualism to be true.
|Keywords||Methodological individualism Ontological individualism Individualism Explanation Ontology Social science Supervenience Pettit Arrow|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Kit Fine (2003). The Non-Identity of a Material Thing and its Matter. Mind 112 (446):195-234.
Michael E. Bratman (1993). Shared Intention. Ethics 104 (1):97-113.
Karen Bennett (2004). Spatio-Temporal Coincidence and the Grounding Problem. Philosophical Studies 118 (3):339-371.
Daniel Little (1991). Varieties of Social Explanation: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science. Westview Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Sally Haslanger (2016). What is a Structural Explanation? Philosophical Studies 173 (1):113-130.
Frank Hindriks (2013). The Location Problem in Social Ontology. Synthese 190 (3):413-437.
Nikk Effingham (2010). The Metaphysics of Groups. Philosophical Studies 149 (2):251-267.
Similar books and articles
Boris Hennig (2002). Holistic Arguments for Individualism. In Georg Meggle (ed.), Social Facts & Collective Intentionality. Dr. Hänsel-Hohenhausen Ag
Eric Mack (1999). In Defense of Individualism. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (2):87-115.
G. B. Madison (1990). How Individualistic is Methodological Individualism? Critical Review 4 (1-2):41-60.
R. Keith Sawyer (2002). Nonreductive Individualism: Part I—Supervenience and Wild Disjunction. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (4):537-559.
Paul Sheehy (2003). Social Groups, Explanation and Ontological Holism. Philosophical Papers 32 (2):193-224.
James H. Fetzer (1986). Methodological Individualism: Singular Causal Systems and Their Population Manifestations. Synthese 68 (1):99 - 128.
Henry Jackman (1998). Individualism and Interpretation. Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1):31-38.
Harold Kincaid (1986). Reduction, Explanation, and Individualism. Philosophy of Science 53 (4):492-513.
Mario Bunge (2000). Ten Modes of Individualism--None of Which Works--And Their Alternatives. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (3):384-406.
Gregory Currie (1984). Individualism and Global Supervenience. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (December):345-58.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads359 ( #5,202 of 1,906,980 )
Recent downloads (6 months)46 ( #14,402 of 1,906,980 )
How can I increase my downloads?