David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 53 (4):492-513 (1986)
This paper contributes to the recently renewed debate over methodological individualism (MI) by carefully sorting out various individualist claims and by making use of recent work on reduction and explanation outside the social sciences. My major focus is on individualist claims about reduction and explanation. I argue that reductionist versions of MI fail for much the same reasons that mental predicates cannot be reduced to physical predicates and that attempts to establish reducibility by weakening the requirements for reduction also fail. I consider and reject a number of explanatory theses, among them the claims that any adequate theory must refer only to individuals and that individualist theory suffices to explain fully. The latter claim, I argue, is not entailed by the supervenience of social facts on individual facts. Lastly, I argue that there is one individualist restriction on explanation which is far more plausible and significant than one would initially suspect
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Citations of this work BETA
Christopher Clarke (forthcoming). The Explanatory Virtue of Abstracting Away From Idiosyncratic and Messy Detail. Philosophical Studies:1-21.
Frank Hindriks (2013). The Location Problem in Social Ontology. Synthese 190 (3):413-437.
Brian Epstein & Patrick Forber (2013). The Perils of Tweaking: How to Use Macrodata to Set Parameters in Complex Simulation Models. Synthese 190 (2):203-218.
Harold Kincaid (1988). Supervenience and Explanation. Synthese 77 (November):251-81.
Caterina Marchionni (2006). Contrastive Explanation and Unrealistic Models: The Case of the New Economic Geography. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (4):425-446.
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