Methodological non-individualism is inherently metaphorical

Recently, I started to realize that the disagreement with methodological individualism is one of the most important reasons for many people not to get behind Austrian economics and the libertarian paradigm in political philosophy.

Here I will try to shortly demonstrate that methodological non-individualism is an inherently metaphorical position which for that reason is not about trying to correctly describe the world, but is instead essentially some kind of poetry.

There are various versions of methodological non-individualism but all of them claim that at least some social phenomena exist separately from their constituent elements.

To start with, something can only be said to independently exist if it can enter into relations with other things not through its constituent elements.

As an example, let us look at a human hand. It consists of cells at the micro level but can cells be said to grab something in the mechanical sense? To my knowledge, the answer is no. The purported counter-cases actually involve non-mechanical interactions. Thus, the grabbing action of a hand is not reducible to the actions of its cells on pain of a category error.

However, the same is not true for social phenomena. All social phenomena are completely realized by their constituent individual actions and thoughts (I include feelings into thoughts because I do not think they are separable). Thus, social phenomena do not exist in the same sense as individuals and their thoughts and actions.


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