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Joseph Agassi Philosophy of the Social Sciences 2004; 34; 316 DOI: 10.1177/0048393104342010 The online version of this article can be found at: http://pos.sagepub.com
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Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. He is particularly clear because he carefully avoids the standard confusion between ontology (what is there). . To this Udehn adds. methodology (what is the way to learn about it). encyclopedic. This book is perceptive. and explanation of observed facts (what information our theories cover). Those who will take this fact as a sufficient cause for ignoring it will lose yet another opportunity to acquaint themselves with his ideas and their force. social institutions. 2001.316 PHILOSOPHY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES / June 2004 Lars Udehn. It seems to me that the epithet “methodological” covers all procedural aspects and that the adjective “substantial methodological” must mean “both substantial and methodological.$135. xiii + 436. U.com at CAPES on August 7. “methodological nominalism” is the name of the proposal to accept nominal definitions. Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought. 202). that this way Popper differs from Hayek.” I have no quarrel here. this book puts Popper center stage. Perhaps I appreciate the book because the author allots me a nice place in his story. I cannot say whether he is right. reject essential definitions. At stake is the existence or nonexistence of social entities. He presents the diverse alternative views as fairly as he can and adds critical comments. Do essences exist? (p. I object to the view that social entities do not exist as much as to the Downloaded from http://pos. Can$ 202.” denying that all social explanations are inherently psychological. the national interest and the national consensus—perhaps also the human race. societies. that social science is reducible to pure psychology. With Udehn. I have to declare my interest.sagepub. More than I deserve. He adds that Popper supports Hayek and is.” This term indicates readiness to discuss matters without using arguments from ontology. Unlike most other surveys of this kind. Social philosophy centers on the question. May/should explanations in the social sciences employ hypotheses about them? Methodological individualism is the proposal that researchers should employ hypotheses about them while showing no concern for the question. and critical. fairly comprehensive. Suffice it that Popper advocated “the autonomy of sociology. as I have trouble with his distinction between what he calls procedural and substantive methodological individualism (p. Do these exist? Similarly. Pp. Its story concerns a century-old discussion on ideas that come under the title of methodological individualism. epistemology (what is known about it). 346). 2008 © 2004 SAGE Publications. rightly. analytic. not clear and possibly even inconsistent. All rights reserved. He places too little accent on the term “methodological. and reader-friendly. traditions. This is refreshing and informative regardless of any qualification. These are social wholes.S. the theory of existence. The author goes further and discusses the methodology of the social sciences in general. History and Meaning. Do these exist? The methodology of the social sciences centers on the question. Methodological Individualism: Background. comparative. thus. For explanations in the social sciences (including psychology) have to refer social entities/social wholes/universals. It is also historical. London: Routledge. and refrain from discussing the question.
) It seems that Udehn introduces the extra terminology to clarify what he sees here as an inconsistency in Popper. I like the compliment. the one here is a draft. and game theory. of the logical positivists. Let me add one comment. but they seldom are matters for reviews. the book contains some inaccuracies. “As stated by Popper. econometrics. Still. 7. Udehn’s views come strong in the final 30odd pages. Udehn ascribes to me institutional individualism and states with no reference. though interesting) reading of Keynes by Leijonhufvud. Keynes was prone to supporting psychologistic individual- Downloaded from http://pos. 348. Udehn’s views of Keynes. Schrödinger. but it will be tiring to list them and discuss them in detail. to get it to the full. since he deemed that theory too narrow. He stressed that even science has an irrational element in it. chap. Einstein. But I have no objection to sidestepping the question of their existence. He compliments me for all that. True. This assumption makes natural their use in explanations. As an arch-inductivist. even if limited to the (controversial. This point is Popper’s (The Open Society and Its Enemies. 4. n. As to the rationale for them. Still. Let me offer a brief summary of their points. n. as did Whewell.com at CAPES on August 7. 377). 218). although only individuals have them. and of rational choice individualism. let me say that encyclopedic books demand good indexes. (I also offer a hypothesis as to what they are.BOOK REVIEWS 317 view that they are redundant for social explanations. let me mention that I miss here the devastating criticisms of game theory by Watkins and by Bunge. and Popper. My major point was that it is advisable to agree with the collectivists on all but one supposition: they ascribe to collectives aims. All rights reserved. but as he and I have collaborated on this matter. of Popperian methodological individualism. Popper never used the term “methodological institutionalism. 2008 © 2004 SAGE Publications. analytic Marxism. I view them as interpersonal means of coordination. 35): when he declared something not a part of the theory of rationality. he did not thereby reject it. property rights. He agrees with my view. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . as all books do. require much more discussion than is allotted (pp.sagepub. though I think I can see how he distinguishes it from the one that he ascribes to James Coleman on p. The book includes presentations and critical discussions of 19th-century background information that is vital to the dispute and adds presentations of the views of the Austrian school of economics. I should not elaborate. Good readers know that and check the information that they find interesting. 220. I also think he is unjust to Jarvie. methodological individualism and methodological institutionalism are irreconcilable doctrines” (p. 23). 293: the one is clearly individualist. 237-38. but I do not know that I deserve it. And I have no objection to the affirmative answer to it. Lacunae are more problematic. the other not. one should take the pleasure of reading the whole book. to the assumption that they do exist. and so he deems it a deviation from Popper. I would also like to defend Frank Knight against a criticism that seems to me invalid (chap. of the diverse Continental schools. i. I do not know how the author distinguishes my view from the one that he ascribes to James Coleman on p.” and he did not object to my ascription of this doctrine to him when he kindly responded to my essay in private.
which is more than questionable. He rightly sees the most important item in the traditional dispute between the different social philosophies as the division between individualism and holism. let me leave it for another occasion. that are on the way out of individualism and into collectivism (p. Not so. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. and explanation. including Coleman’s theory. then hardly anything is. 8. (This is particularly so. n. since holism and historicism go hand in hand. including some that are strictly methodological and some that are both methodological and ontological. He rightly sees the most radical version to be that of the classical theories of the (historical) social contract and the ones farthest from it.sagepub. in accord with an old suggestion of Downloaded from http://pos. Udehn doubts it (p. epistemology.) There are diverse ideas that justify the faith in methodological individualism— more or less. as Popper wisely stressed. There is also moral individualism. And it is incomprehensible to me that some writers assert that Keynesian economics has to rest on neoclassical economics (p. Do social entities exist? Do we know that? Should researchers try to learn them? Should they use them in explanations? It looks as if answers to these questions come in clusters. psychologically given. I think we agree grosso modo (p. This excludes certain forms of holism. one may refer separately to ontology. Durkheim and Popper are right in declaring that the autonomy of sociology depends on the permission to social scientists to employ social wholes. says Popper. Udehn lists Patinkin. to repeat. And fortunately. which.) And he rightly sees the most important item in the traditional dispute between the different philosophies of the social sciences as between methodological individualism and methodological holism. though liberal. Now. it is not reductionist. which is commendable and should remain dominant and quite independent. 221 and chap. list of individual tastes (p. It amounts to reduction of all social science to psychology. particularly the welfare state. . since it precludes all state intervention in the economy. of course. There is also epistemological individualism. If this is not an expression of affiliation to the tradition of psychologistic individualism. 7). clearly. 347). who said the opposite: he said Friedman is a Keynesian in disguise. he did declare his deviation from tradition to rest on his innovative idea of liquidity preference and that he saw this preference as simply an addition to the traditional. Institutional individualism covers all the merits of individualism. is still questionable. moreover. As to fine tuning. Indeed. 238). 218). 2008 © 2004 SAGE Publications.com at CAPES on August 7. 239. Terminology aside.1 The simplest is ontological individualism. (This is not pertinent to any criticism of Keynes’s use of liquidity preference. We can list all the answers to each of them and cluster answers in all the possible ways and find that each of them has an advocate. All rights reserved. There is also political individualism. Among those. methodology. I do not know why. since scientific knowledge is public. 231).318 PHILOSOPHY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES / June 2004 ism of some sort. Udehn offers strong and weak versions of methodological individualism. discussed here briefly on p. And Weber and Popper are right in declaring that the autonomy of the individual depends on the absence of (Marxian) social forces and of (Durkheimian) group mind.
Israel Downloaded from http://pos.BOOK REVIEWS 319 Descartes. . the situation may be different.sagepub. 2008 © 2004 SAGE Publications. 356). then. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Any testable explanation is welcome.com at CAPES on August 7. This is the author’s parting shot (p. Even myths and holistic ideas and historicist ones and purely psychological ones are welcome—if anyone can render them testable. what cluster deserves the name of individualism? This question is a bore. Furthermore. —Joseph Agassi Tel Aviv University. perhaps. All rights reserved. One may ask. if we replace the view of science as explanatory with the idea that it is the search for mechanisms. I do not agree. It accords with the view of Bunge on mechanisms. I have explained why no one can do this but will welcome with great pleasure any refutation of my explanation.
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