Methodological individualism

Methodological individualism

Methodological individualism is the theory that social phenomena can only be accurately explained by showing how they result from the intentional states that motivate the individual actors.[1] The idea has been used to criticize historicism, structural functionalism, and the roles of social class, gender roles, or ethnicity as determinants of individual behavior.[citation needed] It is promoted by the Austrian School of economics in interpreting economic developments.

Mark Blaug, known for his work on the history of economic thought, has criticized over-reliance on methodological individualism, "it is helpful to note what methodological individualism strictly interpreted ... would imply for economics. In effect, it would rule out all macroeconomic propositions that cannot be reduced to microeconomic ones, ... this amounts to saying goodbye to almost the whole of received macroeconomics. There must be something wrong with a methodological principle that has such devastating implications."[2]


  1. ^ Methodological Individualism at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  2. ^ Blaug, Mark (1992). "The Methodology of Economics: Or, How Economists Explain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 45-46. ISBN 0521436788. 

Further reading

  • Kenneth J. Arrow (1994), "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, 84(2), p p. 1-9.
  • Kaushik Basu (2008), "Methodological Individualism," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract.
  • Brian Epstein (2009), "Ontological Individualism Reconsidered," Synthese, 166(1), pp. 187–213.
  • Friedrich A. Hayek (1948), Individualism and Economic Order.
  • Friedrich A. Hayek (1952), The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason.
  • Joseph Heath (2005), "Methodological Individualism", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Eprint.
  • Geoffrey Hodgson, (2007) "Meanings of Methodological Individualism", Journal of Economic Methodology 14(2), June, pp. 211–26.
  • Harold Kincaid (2008), "individualism versus holism," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract.
  • Steven Lukes (1968), "Methodological Individualism Reconsidered," British Journal of Sociology 19, pp. 119–29.
  • Ron McClamrock (1991), "Methodological Individualism Considered as a Constituive Principle of Scientific Inquiry", Philosophical Psychology.
  • Ludwig von Mises, "The Principle of Methodological Individualism", chapt. 2 in Human Action, Eprint.
  • Karl Popper (1945), The Open Society and Its Enemies.
  • Karl Popper (1957), The Poverty of Historicism (earlier published as articles in the journal "Economica").
  • Joseph Schumpeter (1908), Das Wesen und der Hauptinhalt der theoretischen Nationalökonomie (München und Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot).
  • Joseph Schumpeter (1909), "On the Concept of Social Value", Quarterly Journal of Economics, 23(2), February, pp. 213–32.
  • Lars Udéhn (2001), Methodological Individualism: Background, History and Meaning (London and New York: Routledge).
  • Lars Udéhn (2002), "The Changing Face of Methodological Individualism", Annual Review of Sociology, 28, pp. 479–507.

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