Lecture 015



If a theory is compatible with anything, it says nothing

formal rule: representing theory using mathematical symbols material rule or principle: theory should involve meaning of terms

Attacking Holism

Potential Objections:

explaining desire is more fruitful than with action


  1. Watkins' main idea Watkins argues that explaining large-scale social phenomena in terms of other large-scale phenomena is only acceptable when the explanatory large-scale phenomenon is justified using explanations about individual dispositions, beliefs, resources, and relations. Watkins' reasoning goes like this: Although there are social facts that can't be easily explained using individual actions, it is evident that individual actions can alter social facts. Since humans can alter social facts, the belief in unalterable superhuman agents is false. Since methodological individualism plus sociological holism is exhaustive, and that sociological holism is wrong, therefore individualism is right. If my interpretation of Watkins' reasoning is correct, then I think Watkins misunderstood holism because there are only fragments of holism who believe that individuals cannot cause social change. Therefore, Watkins' argument is insufficient to falsify holism as a whole. However, I agree that large-scale social phenomena (e.g. inflation) should be ultimately explained by dispositions, beliefs, resources, and inter-relations of individuals because these properties (e.g. beliefs) of individuals can be "more empirically measurable" than large-scale phenomena (e.g. full employment). Therefore, statements about individuals are more precise and trust-worthy than statements about large-scale phenomena and we should use statements about individuals to explain large-scale phenomena. In addition, explanation in terms of properties of individuals is possible because, unlike large-scale phenomena, they can be measured directly in any empirical research.

  2. potential objections (a) whether human psychology can vary is irrelevant (I DID NOT FIND SUPPORT FOR THIS THOUGH) - human psychology depend on individual, not group. each individual can vary. theory will not span generations. (b) individual human psychologies are not caused by extra-human factors because all extra-human factors are ultimately human factors (compelling by mathematical induction) saturation causes human psychology. view people as innocent vs. sinister - you cannot explain collective individual psychology as social

  3. critic of the use of "folk psychology" might say

  4. ascribe "believes", "desire" (internal state) to a group (entity) is possible

  5. agrees that FIC is not obvious therefore can be insightful

  6. Watkins gives an example about Church vs Emperor. My view: Objective statements are more likely to be true, but at the same time less useful. With today's large dataset, there is no need to reconstruct from historical data.



Hayek: see people drawing correlation, but no causal. Please assume "model of rationality Karl Popper: falsification-ist. Science theory cannot be proved, but can be falsified, un-falsifiable theory is not science. Watkins (Popper's student): naturalism, individualism, collectivism

Historicism: history, culture cause beliefs and action

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