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Methodological Holism in the Social Sciences

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2016)

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  1. Why Be a Methodological Individualist?Julie Zahle & Harold Kincaid - 2019 - Synthese 196 (2):655-675.
    In the recent methodological individualism-holism debate on explanation, there has been considerable focus on what reasons methodological holists may advance in support of their position. We believe it is useful to approach the other direction and ask what considerations methodological individualists may in fact offer in favor of their view about explanation. This is the background for the question we pursue in this paper: Why be a methodological individualist? We start out by introducing the methodological individualism-holism debate while distinguishing two (...)
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  • Limits to Levels in the Methodological Individualism–Holism Debate.Julie Zahle - 2020 - Synthese 198 (7):6435-6454.
    It is currently common to conceive of the classic methodological individualism–holism debate in level terms. Accordingly, the dispute is taken to concern the proper level of explanations in the social sciences. In this paper, I argue that the debate is not apt to be characterized in level terms. The reason is that widely adopted notions of individualist explanations do not qualify as individual-level explanations because they span multiple levels. I defend this claim relative to supervenience, emergence, and other accounts of (...)
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  • Limits to Levels in the Methodological Individualism–Holism Debate.Julie Zahle - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6435-6454.
    It is currently common to conceive of the classic methodological individualism–holism debate in level terms. Accordingly, the dispute is taken to concern the proper level of explanations in the social sciences. In this paper, I argue that the debate is not apt to be characterized in level terms. The reason is that widely adopted notions of individualist explanations do not qualify as individual-level explanations because they span multiple levels. I defend this claim relative to supervenience, emergence, and other accounts of (...)
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  • Social Structural Explanation.Valerie Soon - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (10):e12782.
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  • There is Nothing It is Like to See Red: Holism and Subjective Experience.Anthony F. Peressini - 2017 - Synthese:1-30.
    The Nagel inspired “something-it-is-like” conception of conscious experience remains a dominant approach in philosophy. In this paper I criticize a prevalent philosophical construal of SIL consciousness, one that understands SIL as a property of mental states rather than entities as a whole. I argue against thinking of SIL as a property of states, showing how such a view is in fact prevalent, under-warranted, and philosophically pernicious in that it often leads to an implausible reduction of conscious experience to qualia. I (...)
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  • Are ABM Explanations in the Social Sciences Inevitably Individualist?Harold Kincaid & Julie Zahle - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-22.
    Agent-based models are increasingly important in social science research. They have two obvious apparent virtues: they can model complex macrosociological phenomena without strong assumptions about agents and without analytic solutions for models, and they seem to instantiate the methodological individualist program in a concrete way. We argue that the latter claim is false. After providing schematic accounts of ABM models and a first introduction to ways in which to characterize individualist explanations, we work through six conceptions of individualist explanations that (...)
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  • Sawyer’s Theory of Social Causation: A Critique.Mark Cresswell - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (3):266-288.
    This article critiques R. Keith Sawyer’s theory of social causation from his 2005 book Social Emergence. It considers his use of analogy with the philosophy of mind, his account of individual agency, the legacy of Emile Durkheim, the concepts of supervenience, multiple realization, and wild disjunction, and the role of history in social causation. Sawyer’s theory is also evaluated in terms of two examples of empirical research: his own micro-sociological studies into group creativity; and Margaret Archer’s macro-sociology of education systems.
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  • Three Decades of Social Construction of Technology: Dynamic Yet Fuzzy? The Methodological Conundrum.Sumitran Basu - forthcoming - Social Epistemology.
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  • The Singular Plurality of Social Goods / La singolare pluralità dei beni sociali.Marco Emilio - 2022 - Dissertation, Université de Neuchâtel
    According to some philosophers and social scientists, mainstream economic theories currently play an unprecedented role in shaping human societies. This phenomenon can be linked to the dissemination of methodological individualism, where common goods are interpreted as reducible to aggregates of individuals' well-being. Nonetheless, some emergent difficulties of economics in coping with global institutional issues have encouraged some authors to revise that paradigm. In the last three decades, there has been a parallel growing philosophical interest in investigating social sciences' epistemological and (...)
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