MARGARET Thatcher’s comment that “there is no such thing as society” is endowed with much political meaning by Gerry Hassan (Perspective, 12 October). It seems never to occur to Mrs Thatcher’s political critics that the statement from, say, a philosophical viewpoint could be correct.
Perhaps it is a simple, everyday way of expressing one acceptable approach in the philosophy of social science.
One-time students of economics, sociology or psychology may recall discussions of “individualism versus holism”.
Economics is distinctively individualistic compared with sociology say, for example, in the way individuals make economic choices.
Arguably to say “there is no such thing as society” is to give priority to the individual human being in politics and morality. Whereas by contrast “holism” considers society and social relationships to determine individual behaviour and in politics and morality to stress the priority of the “public good”.