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Do mechanism-based social explanations make a case for methodological individualism?

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In the recent philosophy of social science literature, we notice an increasing support for mechanism-based social explanations. Earlier pleas for social mechanisms were often closely linked to defenses of methodological individualism. However, more recent contributions by, e.g. Daniel Little and Petri Ylikoski, seem to be loosening that link and develop a more sophisticated account-ascribing a less important role to microfoundations. In this paper, we want to review the impact of the social mechanisms-approach on methodological individualism and draw more radical conclusions with regard to the individualism/holism debate, severing the link between the social mechanisms-approach and individualism. Four steps will be taken in severing the link: (a) there are more than two levels of social explanation; (b) levels of explanation are perspectival, thus neither absolute, nor unique; (c) seeking microfoundations has a heuristic value, but so has seeking macrofoundations; (d) there are no general preference rules with respect to the level of social explanations. In conclusion, the answer to the title question is that the social mechanisms approach does not strengthen the case for methodological individualism.

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MLA
Van Bouwel, Jeroen. “Do Mechanism-based Social Explanations Make a Case for Methodological Individualism?” JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (2019): n. pag. Print.
APA
Van Bouwel, J. (2019). Do mechanism-based social explanations make a case for methodological individualism? JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE.
Chicago author-date
Van Bouwel, Jeroen. 2019. “Do Mechanism-based Social Explanations Make a Case for Methodological Individualism?” Journal for General Philosophy of Science.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Bouwel, Jeroen. 2019. “Do Mechanism-based Social Explanations Make a Case for Methodological Individualism?” Journal for General Philosophy of Science.
Vancouver
1.
Van Bouwel J. Do mechanism-based social explanations make a case for methodological individualism? JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 2019;
IEEE
[1]
J. Van Bouwel, “Do mechanism-based social explanations make a case for methodological individualism?,” JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, 2019.
@article{8543197,
  abstract     = {In the recent philosophy of social science literature, we notice an increasing support for mechanism-based social explanations. Earlier pleas for social mechanisms were often closely linked to defenses of methodological individualism. However, more recent contributions by, e.g. Daniel Little and Petri Ylikoski, seem to be loosening that link and develop a more sophisticated account-ascribing a less important role to microfoundations. In this paper, we want to review the impact of the social mechanisms-approach on methodological individualism and draw more radical conclusions with regard to the individualism/holism debate, severing the link between the social mechanisms-approach and individualism. Four steps will be taken in severing the link: (a) there are more than two levels of social explanation; (b) levels of explanation are perspectival, thus neither absolute, nor unique; (c) seeking microfoundations has a heuristic value, but so has seeking macrofoundations; (d) there are no general preference rules with respect to the level of social explanations. In conclusion, the answer to the title question is that the social mechanisms approach does not strengthen the case for methodological individualism.},
  author       = {Van Bouwel, Jeroen},
  issn         = {0925-4560},
  journal      = {JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Do mechanism-based social explanations make a case for methodological individualism?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10838-019-09446-w},
  year         = {2019},
}

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