Methodological Individualism: Still a Useful Methodology for the Social Sciences? – Reinhard Neck


This paper explains the role of methodological individualism as a methodology for the social sciences by briefly discussing its forerunners in economics and sociology, especially in the works of Carl Menger and Max Weber, followed by some comments on Karl Popper’s and other critical rationalists’ contributions as well as rational choice theories. Some recent arguments against methodological rationalism are then provided, including counterarguments, mainly based on exemplary work by economists and sociologists. This paper proposes a scheme for analyses using (weak) methodological individualism, in particular, arguing that evolutionary approaches to the explanation of economic and other social phenomena that accord with methodological individualism suggest that it is a successful and progressive methodology for economics and sociology.

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