Ian C. Jarvie, Critical Rationalism and Methodological Individualism

  • Jeremy ShearmurEmail author


Popper’s methodological individualism faces some problems. It is not clear if we should interpret it as Weberian or along the lines of rational choice theory. As contrasted with what was done in Ian C. Jarvie’s admirable The Revolution in Anthropology (Jarvie, The Revolution in Anthropology. Routledge, London, 1964), the theory was not addressed to concrete problem situations in social theory and does not fit well with Popper’s early ideas about methodological rules or his later ideas about metaphysical research programs. Further, its defenders–including Jarvie–interpret it in ways that give it little content, or which, I think mistakenly, take its thrust to be moral. In reinterpreting this nonetheless important idea, I think that we should take our lead from Jarvie in The Revolution in Anthropology.



I would like to thank Francesco Di Iorio for his comments on an earlier version of this paper and Raphael Sassower for many useful suggestions. I am only sorry that considerations of space precluded my responding to all the interesting problems which Di Iorio posed.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhilosophyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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