Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory

Methodologischer Individualismus

1986 (8) Issue 2


Es gehört auch heute noch zu den Grundüberzeugungen vieler Soziologen, daß sich das Phänomen gesellschaftlicher Ordnung nicht auf Annahmen und Theorien über Individuen und individuelles Handeln zürückführen läßt. IndiViduelle Eigenschaften und Handlungen werden im Gegenteil selbst als einer soziologischen Erklärung bedürftig angesehen. Jeder "Individualismus" wird von diesen Soziologen deshalb strikt abgelehnt, sei es als methodologisches, normatives oder empirisches Programm. Gesell...

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Table of Contents

Title: Individual Choice and Institutional Constraints. The Normative Element in Classical and Contractarian Liberalism
Author: Viktor Vanberg
Page: 113-149

Abstract: Normative individualism appears to be an obvious normative premise underlying a liberal conception of the desirable social order. The shortcomings of some common interpretations of this premise are discussed and a more consistent as well as a more workable standard for assessing the ,goodness, of alternative socio-institutional arrangements is specified. With such an interpretation of normative individualism, a contractrarian conception as advocated by J. M. Buchanan can be viewed as a systematic extension of classical liberalism.

Title: Zur Entstehung der Moral aus natürlichen Neigungen. Eine spieltheoretische Spekulation
Author: Rainer Hegselmann / Werner Raub / Thomas Voss
Page: 150-177

"Moralisches Handeln ist entweder überhaupt nicht möglich, oder es entspringt aus natürlichen Neigungen." (Schlick 1984, 9)

Abstract: Do individuals accept a moral point of view - if they are completely oriented towards their natural preferences and interests? The present article outlines the context of discussion concerning this question within moral philosophy and the social science. In addition it suggests a game-theoretical model with the help of which the question can be answered positively.

Title: Anmerkungen zum Anti-Individualismus im soziologischen Denken
Author: Alfred Bohnen
Page: 178-190

Abstract: Theoretical thinking in modern sociology is still dominated by a marked anti-individualistic orientation. This paper examines the influence that Parsons, critique of utilitarian social thought had on the formation and justification of this methodological view. Since then the utilitaristic (economic) tradition is held to demonstrate the fundamental weakness of individualistic sociological approaches in general: the failure to grasp the importance of emergent properties of social systems. It is argued that Parsons, critique rests on a by far too restrictive interpretation of utilitaristic (economic) thinking which led to a false identification of social-scientific individualism with sociological atomism.

Title: Normen und Interessen als soziologische Grundbegriffe. Kontroversen über Max Weber
Author: Christel Hopf
Page: 191-210

Abstract: This article attempts to clarify and critically to discuss some variants of the sociological interpretation of regularities in social action. The widely held view that the concept of norm yields the decisive approach to a specifically sociological understanding of behavioural regularities is placed in opposition to Weber's reflections on the basic concepts of sociology. Weber from the start reserves room for an utility- and interest-oriented component of explanation, apart from the concept of norm and in principle not less important. In this connection the article also works out and criticises Parsons, attempt to ,integrate, Weber's sociology into a normativistic conception of the discipline. As a consequence of this criticism the author stresses the value of using the concept of norm and also that of rule - in a more differentiated fashion. In particular we should distinguish clearly between on the one hand norms, or rules with obligatory components, and on the other utility- or means-ends-oriented rules, followed in the process of furthering one's own interests. If we neglect this distinction and, like Parsons, subsume a conflation of these concepts under the notion of norm, we run the risk of perceiving any moderately polished and strategically prudent pursuit of an agent's own interests as a case of norm-governed action.

Title: Individualism, Libertarianism and Non-Cognitivism
Author: Hartmut Kliemt
Page: 211-228

Abstract: This paper suggests that libertarian and (related) contractarian ideas would be less vulnerable to certain forms of criticism if they would more carefully disentangle their legal and moral standards for the assessment of institutions from empirical, methodological, and epistemological assumptions about individualism and non-cognitivism. Holding apart several meanings of individualism different issues can be treated separately. It Will be shown that the justification of libertarian norms raises some problems which are not too easily solved within a non-cognitivist approach. No attempt to solve them is made subsequently but how far in principle the ,argumentation possibility frontier, might be shifted out for that purpose is outlined. In this respect the paper might be regarded as a companion to Viktor Vanberg's brillant reconstruction of contractarian liberalism in this issue of ANALYSE & KRITIK (pp. 113-149).

Title: Replies to the Critics of A Theory of Social Action
Author: Raimo Tuomela
Page: 229-241

Abstract: The paper is a reply to the critical reviews of the author's "A Theory of Social Action" by Anton Leist, Marvin Belzer, and Julian Nida-Rümelin in this journal. As to Leist's main criticisms, which concern the notions of social action, social practical reasoning, individualism, and social norms, they are argued to be incorrect and unjustified. Belzer's criticisms are on the whole well taken, and in fact all of them have been noted by the author in his later work. Belzer does not, however, consider these newest analyses and improvements. Nida-Rümelin presents some comments on the relationships between collective preferences and weintentions. These points are correct.