Explanatory Strategies Beyond the Individualism/Holism Debate

Starting from the plurality of explanatory strategies in the actual practice of social scientists, I introduce a framework for explanatory pluralism - a normative endorsement of the plurality of forms and levels of explanation used by social scientists. Equipped with this framework, central issues in the individualism/holism debate are revisited, namely emergence, reduction and the idea of microfoundations. Discussing these issues, we notice that in recent contributions the focus has been shifting towards relationism, pluralism and interaction, away from dichotomous individualism/holism thinking and a winner-takes-all approach. Then, the challenge of the debate is no longer to develop the ultimate individualistic approach or defending the holist approach, but rather how to be combine individualism and holism; how can they co-exist, interact, be integrated or develop some division of labour, while making the best out of the strengths and limitations of the respective explanatory strategies of holists and individualists? Thus, the debate shifts to how exactly pluralism should be understood as the next leading question, going beyond the current individualism/holism debate. The paper ends with a discussion and evaluation of different understandings of explanatory pluralism defended in the literature.