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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holistic Blather

Although I have been critical of methodological individualism, if I thought the only alternative were social holism, I'd be down with MI! Bruce Caldwell, in fact, explains Hayek's early adherence to MI in just that way: the alternative was much worse!

Consider, if you dare, this example from David Brooks:

"At this moment of crisis, it is obvious how little moral solidarity undergirds the European pseudostate. Americans in Oregon are barely aware when their tax dollars go to Americans in Arizona. We are one people with one shared destiny."

Say what? How is it, exactly, that the American people have a "shared destiny"? Are we all destined to be saved or damned together? To become rich or poor together? If you hit the lottery, do I win too? If I get a Nobel Prize, will I split the credit 300 million ways? Other than "Let me think of something rousing and pro-American sounding to shove in here," was Brooks thinking anything at all?

2 comments:

  1. Yes, I have always tried to find the right words for it.

    Man is a corporate, dependent, and not very individualistic creature, unlike panthers and tigers.

    But man also does not have some invisible metaphysical solidarity with complete strangers, and he does not ratify their actions just by being part of the same geographic or ethnic group.

    It's not nationality, it's not religion, it's not race, it's not ethnicity, and it's not common political ideology that forms corporate groups of people. It's rather a little bit of all them and sometimes none of them. One can not easily define the group to which any person belongs, because we never really chose the circumstances in which we are born.

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  2. "But man also does not have some invisible metaphysical solidarity with complete strangers..."

    Yes, when we see what Weber, Mises, Hayek et al. were kicking back against, we can certainly understand their adopting MI as a defensive shield!

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