Title: Making sense of methodological individualism

Authors: Sergios Tzotzes

Addresses: Department of Economics, University of Crete, Rethymno 74100, Greece

Abstract: This paper explores the explanatory status of methodological individualism and the controversies it has given rise to, by specifically examining the scope of the explanantia in the diverse manifestations of the doctrine. In exploring the focal position that methodological individualism occupies in economic science, this paper argues that the theoretical definitions of methodological individualism are neither descriptive nor in accordance with the actual practice of economists who claim to adhere to the doctrine. Making sense of methodological individualism inevitably requires arriving at an alternative descriptive and viable definition of the principle. To this end, the findings of a comprehensive historical review of the evolution of the concept of methodological individualism provides the context for a discussion of a specific case study involving general equilibrium theory. Methodological individualism is treated as a strategy for scientific explanation while other alternatives that treat it as an ontological thesis are not considered.

Keywords: methodological individualism; divergence; explanantia; historical typology; general equilibrium theory.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2011.043757

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2011 Vol.5 No.3, pp.243 - 272

Available online: 15 Nov 2011 *

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