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Review s1.sINTRODUCTIONsOne of the cornerstones of contemporary social sciences is methodological individualism – the requirement that all social phenomena must be explained by showing how they emerge from the motivations and actions of individuals. Methodological individualism has strong appeal, since individuals seem to be the basic constituents of social reality. Therefore, the fact that it is the dominant approach among economists and other social scientists is not surprising.sIn his book, Brian Epstein sets himself two ambitious goals. First, he aims to show that methodological individualism is false. Second, he proposes his own metaphysical framework, which, he claims, gives us conceptual tools to better understand the nature of social facts.sHis approach is innovative. However, I shall argue that Epstein's attack on methodological individualism is directed against a straw man. Moreover, the suggested framework is conceptually problematic due to its reliance on vague notions of ontological dependence, which make little sense in the context of social ontology.s2.sTWO CORNERSTONES OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCESsIn the first part of the book (Chapters 1–9), Epstein criticizes ontological individualism and discusses its relationship to a theory of social facts, known as the Standard Model of Social Ontology.s2.1.sOntological individualismsEpstein's argument rests on Lukes’ (1968) claim that methodological individualism http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economics & Philosophy Cambridge University Press

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Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 
ISSN
1474-0028
eISSN
0266-2671
DOI
10.1017/S026626711600016X
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

s1.sINTRODUCTIONsOne of the cornerstones of contemporary social sciences is methodological individualism – the requirement that all social phenomena must be explained by showing how they emerge from the motivations and actions of individuals. Methodological individualism has strong appeal, since individuals seem to be the basic constituents of social reality. Therefore, the fact that it is the dominant approach among economists and other social scientists is not surprising.sIn his book, Brian Epstein sets himself two ambitious goals. First, he aims to show that methodological individualism is false. Second, he proposes his own metaphysical framework, which, he claims, gives us conceptual tools to better understand the nature of social facts.sHis approach is innovative. However, I shall argue that Epstein's attack on methodological individualism is directed against a straw man. Moreover, the suggested framework is conceptually problematic due to its reliance on vague notions of ontological dependence, which make little sense in the context of social ontology.s2.sTWO CORNERSTONES OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCESsIn the first part of the book (Chapters 1–9), Epstein criticizes ontological individualism and discusses its relationship to a theory of social facts, known as the Standard Model of Social Ontology.s2.1.sOntological individualismsEpstein's argument rests on Lukes’ (1968) claim that methodological individualism

Journal

Economics & PhilosophyCambridge University Press

Published: Aug 12, 2016

References