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The Perspectives on Mindsets of Individualism

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Individualism is a school of ethic that can be defined by various perspectives of intelligent mindsets. Nathaniel Brenden (1994) defined individualism as two different concepts: 1) ethical-psychological and 2) ethical-political. Under ethical-psychological concept, he stated that a human being should be able to judge independently and think, while respecting the jurisdiction of his or her mind. In addition, Brenden stated that individuals should uphold its command of individual rights under ethical-political concept (Brenden, 1994). On the other hand, Ayn Rand (1964), the inventor of Objectivism and the strong individualist, defined individualism as follows:

Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.

There are numerous ethical schools of individualism and copious individualists with different perspectives on the idea of individualism. In this paper, I have selected the following ethical individualism to expose and critique: 1) ontological individualism, 2) methodological individualism, and 3) moral or political individualism.

Ontological individualism is a belief that only individuals exist in a society (Sawyer, 2002). In other words, ontological individualism refers to persons who choose and act in a society; only individuals exist. Therefore, a group, a social class, or a state is not able to act as an individual ...

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... 7, 2011, from http://epstein.org/brian/PhilPapers/OntolIndiv.pdf

Kim, J. (1993). Supervenience and mind : selected philosophical essays. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Methodological Individualism. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2011, from This is the home page of J.R. Lucas, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~jrlucas/methind.html

Rand, A. (1965). The virtue of selfishness; a new concept of egoism. New York: New American Library.

Sawyer, R. K. (2002, December). Nonreductive Individualism Part 1 - Supervenience and Wild Disjunction. Retrieved February 3, 2011, from http://artsci.wustl.edu/~ksawyer/PDFs/nri1.pdf

Sawyer, R. K. (2005). Social emergence : societies as complex systems. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society : an outline of interpretive sociology. Berkley: University of California Press.
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