October, 2015

What is Old Should Be New Again: Methodological Individualism, Institutional Analysis and Spontaneous Order

Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.
Additional details

Find the article at www.gangemieditore.com

In this paper we revisit the case for methodological individualism for the positive analysis of political economy. We argue that the basis of methodological individualism implies neither a necessary commitment to atomistic reductionism in explaining social phenomena nor philosophical individualism resulting in a laissez-faire policy. The point of engaging in spontaneous order analysis on methodologically individualist grounds is not to make precise predictions per se, but instead to render the purposive actions of individuals and the meaning of such actions intelligible. Once individuals can be understood as purposive actors whose social interactions generate patterns of institutions, such as language, money and law, which coordinate their self-interest, then the mystery of how self-interest coincides with social cooperation under the division of labor, i.e. Paris getting fed, can be understood through the consistent and persistent application of the economic way of thinking.