|What is Individualism? As with most abstract terms, the meaning of
"individualism" is multifaceted and sometimes contradictory. According
to Mario Bunge, there are many types. Five are:
1. methodological: the proposition that the only way to understand our
society (or parts of it) is to break it down to individual decisions
and then try to add up individual decisions and the ways in which they
2. psychological: the theory that each person in reality acts as a
3. mystical: the view that there exists a basic unity (perhaps hidden)
between the individual and the whole of society (or a major segment of
society), so that events on a higher level of aggregation can be
understood totally in terms of individual psychology and/or
decision-making. Other versions of this include the assumption that
all of society can be seen as one big factory.
4. political: the normative view (often called "libertarianism") that
all individuals should be free of all external constraint imposed by
5. ethical: another normative view, involving the respect for each
individual as an individual. The differences among individuals should
be acknowledged, so that no effort should be made to forced everyone
to be alike (except to prevent them from hurting each other).
See Mario Bunge's 2000 article, Ten Modes of Individualism – None of
Which Works – And Their Alternatives, Philosophy of the Social
Sciences 30; 384 available at
http://pos.sagepub.com/cgi-bin/reprint/30/3/384.pdf as of July 30, 2007.
My list does not correspond to his.