Methodological individualism: Singular causal systems and their population manifestations

Synthese 68 (1):99 - 128 (1986)
The purpose of this essay is to investigate the properties of singular causal systems and their population manifestations, with special concern for the thesis of methodological individualism, which claims that there are no properties of social groups that cannot be adequately explained exclusively by reference to properties of individual members of those groups, i.e., at the level of individuals. Individuals, however, may be viewed as singular causal systems, i.e., as instantiations of (arrangements of) dispositional properties. From this perspective, methodological individualism appears to be an ambiguous thesis: some properties of collections of (independent) systems of the same kind are reducible, but other properties of collections of (dependent) systems of the same kind are not. In cases of the first kind, therefore, methodological individualism is true, but trivial; while in cases of the second kind, it is significant, but false. Hence, if the arguments that follow are correct, at least some of the properties of social groups should qualify as emergent.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,719
External links

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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence.Erik Weber - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Individualism and Interpretation.Henry Jackman - 1998 - Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1):31-38.
Methodological Individualism, Explanation, and Invariance.Daniel Steel - 2006 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (4):440-463.
Emergence in Sociology: A Critique of Nonreductive Individualism.J. Greve - 2012 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (2):188-223.
When Local Models Fail.Brian Epstein - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (1):3-24.
Against A Priori Arguments for Individualism.Robert A. Wilson - 1993 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):60-79.
The Mechanisms of Emergence.R. Keith Sawyer - 2004 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):260-282.
Nonreductive Individualism Part II—Social Causation.R. Keith Sawyer - 2003 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (2):203-224.
Ontological Individualism Reconsidered.Brian Epstein - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):187-213.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
29 ( #182,996 of 2,197,306 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #149,010 of 2,197,306 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature