The Sovereign Individual

William Lucy

in Understanding and Explaining Adjudication

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198260257
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682070 | DOI:
The Sovereign Individual

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The individual is considered sovereign in a double sense: first, morally and ethically, because individuals are sole creators of moral and ethical significance in the world and, second, in explanatory terms, since the actions and beliefs of individuals determine the nature of social structures, institutions and practices. Both senses are often associated with the vague, loosely specified notion of individualism. The methodological sense in which the individual is sovereign appears in the approach to explanation and understanding in the human sciences that philosophers call methodological individualism; the moral and ethical sense arises as but an echo of many versions of political liberalism, on the one hand, and moral and ethical egoism, on the other. Resolving the plurality problem and that of accommodating ideology are general difficulties in the sense that they affect the orthodox method wherever deployed, be it in the jurisprudential or any other context. This chapter argues that the orthodox method does not and should not embrace the sovereign individual based on a methodological position called compatibilism.

Keywords: individualism; sovereign individual; actions; beliefs; social structures; political liberalism; egoism; plurality; orthodox method; compatibilism

Chapter.  20932 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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