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The Common MindAn Essay on Psychology, Society, and Politics$
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Philip Pettit

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195106459

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195106458.001.0001

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Social Theory

Social Theory

Chapter:
(p.228) 5 Social Theory
Source:
The Common Mind
Author(s):

Philip Pettit (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195106458.003.0005

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

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