Social Theory

Philip Pettit

in The Common Mind

Published in print September 1996 | ISBN: 9780195106459
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872251 | DOI:
 Social Theory

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What are the implications of holistic individualism for social explanation? This chapter argues that it points us toward a distinctive picture of individual‐level interpretation, under which we seek out the contents of people's thoughts – the reasons from which they implicitly or explicitly reason their way to action. It then goes on to show that nevertheless, it makes room for explanation of a sort that prescinds from such thoughts: structural and historicist explanation, which goes to high‐level or remote determinants; and rational‐choice explanation, which invokes a sort of self‐interest that has no obvious presence in day‐to‐day reasoning. Explanatory pluralism or ecumenism is quite consistent, then, with the ontological picture developed earlier.

Keywords: decision theory; explanation; inference theory; methodological individualism; resilience

Chapter.  31209 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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