What Is Old Should Be New Again: Methodological Individualism, Institutional Analysis and Spontaneous Order

Boettke, Peter J., and Rosolino A. Candela. 2015. "What Is Old Should Be New Again: Methodological Individualism, Institutional Analysis and Spontaneous Order." Sociologia 2: 5-14

20 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015 Last revised: 11 May 2016

See all articles by Peter J. Boettke

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Rosolino Candela

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 5, 2015

Abstract

In this paper we revisit the case for methodological individualism for the positive analysis of political economy. We argue that the basis of methodological individualism implies neither a necessary commitment to atomistic reductionism in explaining social phenomena nor philosophical individualism resulting in a laissez-faire policy. The point of engaging in spontaneous order analysis on methodologically individualist grounds is not to make precise predictions per se, but instead to render the purposive actions of individuals and the meaning of such actions intelligible. Once individuals can be understood as purposive actors whose social interactions generate patterns of institutions, such as language, money and law, which coordinate their self-interest, then the mystery of how self-interest coincides with social cooperation under the division of labor, i.e. Paris getting fed, can be understood through the consistent and persistent application of the economic way of thinking.

Keywords: Methodological Individualism, Rational Choice, Spontaneous Order

JEL Classification: A12, B52, B53

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Candela, Rosolino, What Is Old Should Be New Again: Methodological Individualism, Institutional Analysis and Spontaneous Order (May 5, 2015). Boettke, Peter J., and Rosolino A. Candela. 2015. "What Is Old Should Be New Again: Methodological Individualism, Institutional Analysis and Spontaneous Order." Sociologia 2: 5-14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2602906 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2602906

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

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Rosolino Candela (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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