Is the social reducible to something about individual attitudes and behavior? Is it entirely explainable in such terms? Some form of methodological individualism is widely assumed in the social sciences and among philosophers of the social world. Brian Epstein's rich and ambitious new book is a sustained attack on such individualism.

The Ant Trap is divided into two parts. The first part contains nine chapters, in which Epstein introduces the reader to various metaphysical tools and uses them to isolate and sharpen the various theses that fall under the heading “individualism” as well as commonly made assumptions among philosophers of the social world. In the second part, also containing nine chapters along with an epilogue, Epstein uses these tools to argue against what many may regard as a platitudinous truth: that social facts depend entirely on facts about individuals.

Epstein isolates two widely held, but largely unexamined, pictures about the...

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