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Taking the modern for nature: methodological individualism as an interesting mistake

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Marx claims that what early modern writers took as the isolated individual in nature, was actually the individual in modern civil society. This is a mistake, but an interesting one. The paper traces the idea of the methodological individualist isolated individual in Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Austrian and neoclassical economics. The idea is untenable because it prevents a distinction between the individual and the economy in which it supposedly pursues its interest. But the mistake pushes beyond itself, pointing to a tenable alternative, plural individuality. The alternative view is thus grounded in its contrary, rather than simply rejecting it.
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Keywords: Individuals; civil society; exchange; language; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, University of Denver, 2000 E. Asbury Ave Denver, 80208, USA 303-871-2258 303-871-2258

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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