For example, when I set the Documents folder in my user folder to "Sort by: Kind", it also sets the sorting option for every other folder on my computer. Can I have unique folder sorting options? Or is it impossible?
EDIT: This is on El Capitan.
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Indeed, unique sort order is possible.
You said: “There is no button labeled "Use As Defaults" on my version of OS X." But there is, or should be. Opene diskUtility, select your disk and hit the FirstAid tab: it will correct the permissions; then restart the mac. This will probably help.