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Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate

Here’s a review from NDPR — notwithstanding the reviewer’s criticisms, this may well be a useful update to a longstanding, and often infertile debate.

The traditional opposition between social wholes and individuals rings a bit hollow to contemporary ears, not only because the poles of the opposition are only vaguely or ambiguously conceived, nor solely because one suspects that they are hardly mutually exclusive, but also because this opposition doesn’t include, within the scope of potentially relevant factors it considers, those that are non-human or sub-personal (such as, for instance, human biology, ecology, and artifacts and technology). What happens in human affairs is very plausibly constrained, enabled, and affected by a combination of factors classifiable as ecological, biological, and technological, in addition to “individual” and “social.” Since the first three kinds of factors operate in ways that cross-cut the individual-social distinction, and (on some conceptions of the individual or the social) are not included within the framework of that distinction at all, the inherited individualism-holism opposition, and the traditional question of the reducibility or non-reducibility of the social to the individual, are problematic in a way that most contributors to the volume never address.

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Austrian Theory and Economic Organization: Reaching Beyond Free Market Boundaries

9781137371416

The first volume (of two) edited by Guinevere Liberty Nell.

The Austrian economic school famously predicted and explained the problems of calculation in a socialist society. With their concept of spontaneous order, they challenged mainstream economists to look beyond simplified static models and consider the dynamic and evolutionary characteristics of social orders. However, many feel that Austrians took their victory too far and became ideologically devoted to laissez-faire.

Austrian Theory and Economic Organization is a collection of essays on problems and possibilities in economic organization, written by economists and political scientists with an interest in the dynamic and evolutionary nature of market economies. Each chapter explores areas of potential agreement between Austrian theory, market socialist economics, and other heterodox schools of economic and political science. The collection aims to bridge cultural and political divisions between free market advocates who stress individual rights and left-leaning thinkers who stress social justice and a culture of solidarity.