Meanings of methodological individualism

Journal of Economic Methodology 14 (2):211-226 (2007)
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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DOI 10.1080/13501780701394094
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References found in this work BETA
Jon Elster (2003). Marxism, Functionalism, and Game Theory: A Case for Methodological Individualism. In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Theory and Society. Routledge, in Association with the Open University 453.
J. W. N. Watkins (1957). Historical Explanation in the Social Sciences. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 8 (30):104-117.

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Citations of this work BETA
Dave Elder-vass (2007). Social Structure and Social Relations. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37 (4):463–477.
Marek Hudík (2011). Why Economics is Not a Science of Behaviour. Journal of Economic Methodology 18 (2):147-162.
Steve Fleetwood (2014). Conceptualizing Future Labour Markets. Journal of Critical Realism 13 (3):233-260.

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