Individualism is merely one viewpoint in an enormous hierarchy of viewpoints ranging from Planck length to the universe. Individualism as a tenet of a philosophy transforms that philosophy into a Procrustean bed that cannot model the real world well, because the real world is not based on individuals.
Some viewpoints in the hierarchical levels of the universe:
particles atoms molecules organelles cells tissues organs individuals families societies species ecology planetary surface planet solar system galaxy universe multiverse
Individualist philosophers seem blind to the basic importance of evolution to philosophy: that individuals are products of evolution. This makes their philosophy as quaint and incorrect as geocentric cosmology. It is only by insisting that individuals are the center of the universe that they can arrive at heavenly spheres such as "natural rights".
- A Dim View of Libertarianism, Part II: The Myth of Social Atomism [More...]
- The liberal replies that this denial of the very existence of “society” and “the public” is reductionism, plain and simple – what the Brits call “nothing-buttery.” It is comparable to saying that Hamlet is “nothing but” words, that Beethoven’s music is “nothing but” notes, that the Mona Lisa is “nothing but” pigments on canvas, and that the human brain is “nothing but” cells and electro-chemical events.
- Atomism [More...]
- "Private property was an innovation (and a very useful one) granting some individuals greater rights in regards to some resource than anyone else. But being granted to an individual by their social group, it is quite naturally subject to revocation by the group and to whatever other conditions the group puts upon its possession. Such as, for instance, "You may have control over this land, and the proceeds you earn from using it, on the condition that you return 10% of those proceeds to the group.""
- Collectivism is at the other end of a spectrum that includes individualism. Minarchists are collectivists: they emphasize our interdependence in a minimal state. Anarchists too can be collectivists, if some decision making is interdependent and not totally individual. Societal norms, such as property, rely on collectivist enforcement. Libertarian denunciation of collectivism simply means they do not want collective solutions except where their ideology needs them.
- Libertarians’ reality problem: How an estrangement from history yields abject failure
- "The libertarian tradition fundamentally misunderstands human life. No wonder its adherents get politics so wrong. [...] libertarianism cannot provide a coherent account of our capacity for choice. It presents freedom as its central concern, conceptually and normatively, but is indifferent to the conditions that nurture and sustain it."
- Must Macroeconomic Theories Have Microfoundations? [More...]
- Cosma Shalizi explains at length why the answer is "not necessarily". Undermines arguments for methodological individualism of Austrian Economics.
- Ten Modes of Individualism-- None of Which Works-- And Their Alternatives [More...]
- Individualism comes in at least 10 modes, with flaws and merits for each. It is argued that systemism has all the virtues and none of the defects of individualism and holism.
- There's no such thing as society… only individuals and families. (4 links)
- This famous Margaret Thatcher quote is philosophical twaddle. The same principle then applies to government, corporations, religions, etc. It is based on the unscientific and fallacious claim that individuals are the only valid level of analysis, common to the methodological individualism of Austrian Economics.
Milton Friedman asks us to think of a tree, with leaves, in the sunlight. Consider the density of the leaves around different parts of the tree. “I suggest,” says Friedman, “that the leaves are positioned as if each leaf deliberately sought to maximize the amount of sunlight it receives, given the position of its neighbors, as if it knew the physical laws determining the amount of sunlight that would be received in various positions and could move rapidly or instantaneously from any one position to any other desired and unoccupied position.” And thus we are distracted from the fact that in real life whole branches die off to achieve this distribution. And other trees are killed as their light is cut off.
Mike Huben, "Mike Huben's Criticisms"
[W]e have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
George Orwell, "Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell"