Julie Zahle

Agent-Based Computational (ABC) Modelling and Methodological Individualism

Classic methodological individualism states that social scientists should solely offer individualist explanations, that is, explanations that focus on individuals’ contributions to the bringing about of some event. A number of theorists have drawn a connection between ABC modelling and the endorsement of methodological individualism. In the first part of this presentation, I examine and dismiss the claim that (1) ABC modelling necessarily goes hand-in-hand with the advancement of individualist explanations. The rejection of (1) still leaves it open to maintain that (2) ABC modelling should go hand-in-hand with the offering of individualist explanations. In the second part, I consider the most important reasons offered in support of (2) while arguing that they must all be found wanting. Thus, I conclude that ABC modelling is not, and should not, be committed to classic methodological individualism.


Julie Zahle is a philosopher specialized in the philosophy of the social sciences (and the humanities). Her main areas of research are: values in science, the individualism/holism debate, qualitative methods, research ethics, social theories of practice, the philosophy of anthropology and sociology, and the role of science in society. She is currently a research fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen in Norway.


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