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Rethinking Micro-Macro Relations
Science and Technology Studies/Sociology, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5237-9695
2014 (English)In: Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate: Essays in the Philosophy of Social Science / [ed] Julie Zahle, Finn Collin, Springer Publishing Company, 2014, p. 117-135Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper proposes a new approach to the micro-macro problem in the social sciences. It argues that the common strategy of borrowing arguments from the philosophy of mind debates is not fruitful and the micro-macro relations should not be conceptualized in terms of ‘levels’. This way of thinking is systematically misleading and fails to provide methodologically useful guidance. As a replacement the paper suggests an approach that consider micro-macro relations in terms of scale. In this view there is no unique micro level in the social sciences, and the micro-macro contrast is always context-relative. When combined with the idea of mechanism-based explanation this idea provides an effective tool for thinking about explanation-related controversies in the philosophy of social sciences. For example, by clearly distinguishing causal and constitutive explanations at different scales, it is possible to resolve many conceptual puzzles related to macro causation. The scale-based approach also makes it possible to explore the diversity of macro social properties. To emphasize the importance of this diversity, the paper concludes by presenting a fourfold classification of these properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Publishing Company, 2014. p. 117-135
Series
Synthese Library ( (Studies in Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science) ; 372
Keywords [en]
Micro-macro, Causal explanation, Constitutive explanation, Individualism, Scale
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-148460DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-05344-8_7ISBN: 978-3-319-05344-8 (electronic)ISBN: 978-3-319-05343-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-148460DiVA, id: diva2:1216375
Available from: 2018-06-11 Created: 2018-06-11 Last updated: 2018-06-12Bibliographically approved

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Ylikoski, Petri

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf