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Individualism and Collectivism: The Case of Language*†

Philosophy of the Social Sciences , Volume 9 (1): 27 – Mar 1, 1979


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1979 by SAGE Publications
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Individualism and Collectivism: The Case of Language*†


Individualism and Collectivism: The Case of Language*† SAGE Publications, Inc.1979DOI: 10.1177/004839317900900102 F.B. D'Agostino Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University 1. INTRODUCTION A recent debate regarding the appropriate goals and methods of the social sciences has led to the articulation of the two quite different positions on the subject of Methodological Individualism and Methodological Collectivism. Much recent research in linguistics has tacitly presupposed an Individualistic orientation. This orientation has recently been challenged and it has been suggested that Collectivism rather than Individualism provides the appropriate methodological orientation for linguistics. This suggestion is interesting in a number of respects. First, it represents a challenge to Methodological Individualism which its advocates must undermine on pain of jeopardizing whatever plausibility their doctrine may have. Second, the suggestion may represent a challenge to the actual current methodological practices of linguists. And third, some of the arguments given in support of this anti-Individualistic suggestion are quite similar to those used by philosophical critics of Individualism. The first and second of these points motivate my discussion, while the congruities mentioned in the third suggest a way of organizing it. I am concerned here to undermine the suggestion that Collectivism rather than Individualism
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