For Individualism, Against Collectivism

Philip Pettit

in The Common Mind

Published in print September 1996 | ISBN: 9780195106459
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872251 | DOI:
 For Individualism, Against Collectivism

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The issue between individualism and collectivism is whether society involves the presence of any regularities or forces which compromise the picture of human beings as intentional agents – the picture charted in the first part of the book. Many social scientists, and many philosophers too, have suggested that did we have a full understanding of the factors at work in social life, we would realize that the common‐or‐garden, intentional image of human beings is radically mistaken. The thinkers who maintain this view are collectivists, in the terminology used here, while those who reject it, those who deny that social forces or regularities are inimical in this way to intentional autonomy or autarchy, are individualists. The chapter argues the case for individualism, contrasting it with the core theses defended by collectivists. Many doctrines thought to be implicit in individualism, however, are quite independent of the doctrine as it is described here; thus it does not entail the atomism rejected in Ch. 4, nor the methodological individualism rejected in Ch. 5.

Keywords: collectivism; functionalism; group selection; individualism; structural forces

Chapter.  25475 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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