Economics and Philosophy

Essays

The Impossibility of a Complete Methodological Individualist: Reduction When Knowledge Is Imperfect

David M. Levya1

a1 George Mason University

F. A. Hayek is uniquely responsible for his fellow economists grasping the importance of the decentralization of knowledge: as Hayek shows in his pathbreaking “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” knowledge nowhere exists as a coherent whole and to pretend otherwise is a most serious error. Hayek also shares responsibility for the popularity of a strong form of the methodological individualist research program which asserts that since collectives as such have no impact on the choices of individuals, investigators ought to purge any reliance on collectives from our analysis.