Unification of Psychology (and science?)

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#21  Postby Imza » Nov 26, 2013 2:38 am


Do some homework. I've studied philosophy and psychology at degree level. It's clear to me, by your question, that you are clueless. I wouldn't mind so much, if it wasn't for the arrogant attitude.

And now, having made my point, I will ignore the rest of your post.

Oh my fault, didn't realize I was dealing with someone at the "Degree level", does Dennett have a degree too? How dare I go against such authority!

Anyways, unlike you I'm actually interested the discussion at hand so I won't ignore your post despite you doing that to mine.

If psychology wants to be respected as a science, it will have to eliminate all reductive narratives dressed in folk-psychological terms. Fact.

Again, this is not even the discussion, who said anything about psychology wanting to be respected as a science? Psychology is a science, if people fail to recognize that, it's on them. I know very few of my colleagues that spend their time defending psychology as a science because it's a non-issue. There are plenty of discussions on doing better science or trying to tackle hard problems though...

As for eliminating reductive narratives dressed up in psychological terms, I'm not sure what your talking about there so you'll have to give me examples.

The fact of the matter is that concepts deemed as 'folk-psychological terms' are not reductive/objective explanatory narratives of human/animal interaction/behaviour


Okay...and? I'm not sure what this has to do with my statement you quoted "The goal is to do science and better science whenever possible and find links among disparate fields".

You don't get any more red than Stalin, nor any more materialistic that Dennett. If I said that Stalin once acknowledged that democracy worked, you would have taken notice. But you ignore the words I attribute to Dennett. Enough said.

I'm not entirely sure what your saying here but if your saying that because a materialist (I won't ask for immaterial definition here from you just to be nice) like Dennett says something, I should take notice and presumably hold his opinion to be valid, I simply can't see the logic. Even if there were groups of "materialists" that said the same thing as Dennett, it's neither here or there unless they actually have a good argument. Dennett from everything I've read and seen is a very bad at psychology so I don't hold any weight to him as an authority.

I'm an idealist. I [therefore] don't get my psychology from Dennett. I'm merely informing you of the fact that most materialistic philosophers understand the problem of 'objectively' explaining human behaviour.
An idealist! Interesting, well at least I can see why your so poised on making the physical/non-physical and material/immaterial distinction, distinctions to me that are completely meaningless.

As for what materialistic philosophers think about problem of "objectively" explaining human behavior is, I would still say it doesn't matter unless they have actually good arguments. To me, psychological science is doing very well in explaining human behavior objectively and continuous to make great gains. However, I'll be genuinely curious as to what these philosophers are saying, as a scientist I would be very interested in knowing what these blind spots are that cause problems of explaining behavior "objectively".

Easy. Once you know a person, you can predict their behaviour quite successfully. None of this behaviour requires any scientific understanding whatsoever. The divorce courts are full of it, for instance.

Yes, you elaborated on what it means to be attributing beliefs and how you think that leads to better predictions but what evidence do you have for it? Forgive me if I don't take divorce court as gold standard of scientific evidence.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#22  Postby Asta666 » Nov 26, 2013 4:55 am

Imza wrote:Agreed, philosophy of science is very useful for conceptual clarification and getting clear about intervening variables is central. I myself like the categories by Kelly Wilson, that break down hypothetical or intervening variables into multiple categories.

I too find that article very good, I'm always positively surpirsed when I encounter more works on the subject, I've not seen many of them. If you have any others please send me a PM with the links :cheers: .

Imza wrote:I agree and I think for Skinner’s time, he was right on. I think with advances in biology and psychology though, we are better able to address those questions now more rigorously so it’s worth revisiting.

Could you give some examples? I don't see what advances could be said to have solved the methodological issues around the accessibility of "covert behaviors" and derived from that one the ones regarding the reliability of introspection and the alleged physiological correlates of constructs. Also controlling variables and using prospective designs at the cultural/social level of analysis remains equally difficult, that is why I said that what we lack are measuring technologies and experimental settings.
In the same sense for instance radical behaviorism doesn't solve those problems either, but it permits to frame the field philosophically in such a way that one is able to explain them away (no mental realm, no ontological dimension of constructs, etc.) until the other required fields advance to the point where they can be researched scientifically (probably neurophysiology and genetics).

Imza wrote:I think that’s a bit misleading, I didn’t say we can solve these problems philosophically, philosophy is not in the business of solving problems, certainly not scientific ones. However, I do think philosophical integration and conceptual analysis can help us state the problem better or point to a problem that has been neglected.

You are right, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, it is just an impression I got from reading the article you linked and some other works, that by presenting the problem and philosophically framing it sometimes it is bypassed, or the conclussions are assumed. A similar concern to the one MacCorquodale and Meehl mention regarding psychoanalytic constructs:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
A concept like libido or censor or super-ego may be introduced initially as though it is to be an intervening variable; or even less, it is treated as a merely conventional designation for a class of observable properties or occurrences. But somewhere in the course of theoretical discussion, we find that these words are being used as hypothetical constructs instead. We find that the libido has acquired certain hydraulic properties, or as in Freud's former view, that the 'energy' of libido has been converted into 'anxiety.' What began as a name for an intervening variable is finally a name for a 'something' which has a host of causal properties. These properties are not made explicit initially, but it is clear that the concept is to be used in an explanatory way which requires that the properties exist. Thus, libido may be introduced by an innocuous definition in terms of the 'set of sexual needs' or a 'general term for basic strivings.' But subsequently we find that certain puzzling phenomena are deduced ('explained') by means of the various properties of libido, e.g., that it flows, is dammed up, is converted into something else, tends to regress to earlier channels, adheres to things, makes its 'energy' available to the ego, and so on. [...] The fundamental difficulty with such theories is two-fold. First, as has been implied by our remarks, there is the failure explicitly to announce the postulates concerning existential properties, so that these are introduced more or less surreptitiously and ad hoc as occasion demands. Secondly, by this device there is subtly achieved a transition from admissible intervening variables to inadmissible hypothetical constructs. These hypothetical constructs, unlike intervening variables, are inadmissible because they require the existence of entities and the occurrence of processes which cannot be seriously believed because of other knowledge.

But maybe it is just me, and obviously much depends on what one thinks about the status of the issue mentioned in the previous quote.

jamest wrote:If psychology wants to be respected as a science, it will have to eliminate all reductive narratives dressed in folk-psychological terms. Fact.

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The behavioral account sets the task for the physiologist. Mentalism on the other hand has done a great disservice by leading physiologists on false trails in search of the neural correlates of images, memories, consciousness, and so on. Skinner
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#23  Postby jamest » Nov 26, 2013 11:28 am

Imza wrote:
Again, this is not even the discussion, who said anything about psychology wanting to be respected as a science? Psychology is a science, if people fail to recognize that, it's on them.

Surely you understand the problem here? Those concepts utilised in belief attribution - folk psychology - do not suffice as physical explanations of human behaviour. And science deals in physical explanations. So the distinction between science and psychology is clearly apparent.

I know very few of my colleagues that spend their time defending psychology as a science because it's a non-issue.

It's an issue if you want to talk about the unification of psychology and science, as per the thread title; and it's an issue if you want to claim that psychology is science when science is about physical explanations.

As for eliminating reductive narratives dressed up in psychological terms, I'm not sure what your talking about there so you'll have to give me examples.

Terms such as desire, love, anger, beauty, jealousy, happiness, etc., are normally used (by everyone, not just psychologists) to explain and predict human behaviour. It works too. Surely you don't need me to provide examples?

An idealist! Interesting, well at least I can see why your so poised on making the physical/non-physical and material/immaterial distinction, distinctions to me that are completely meaningless.

That's called sticking your head in the sand. This whole issue hinges upon the distinction between physical and non-physical concepts. Science uses physical concepts. Non-physical concepts are not acceptable as a physical explanation… a scientific explanation. That's why belief attribution - no matter how well it works - is a problem for science and anyone who wants to talk like a scientist.

To me, psychological science is doing very well in explaining human behavior objectively and continuous to make great gains.

I haven't said that psychology is rubbish. I've merely tried to explain why it isn't a science. As an idealist, I am not invested in the requirement for a physical explanation for everything.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#24  Postby archibald » Nov 26, 2013 11:46 am

jamest wrote: As an idealist, I am not invested in the requirement for a physical explanation for everything.


I agree. We must not exclude mind woo.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#25  Postby Blip » Nov 26, 2013 3:19 pm

I'm sorry that I haven't - until now - fulfilled my promise to comment further: it has been a difficult week.

Reflecting on this I felt that I ought simply to acknowledge that I now lack the vocabulary to do the subject justice - which is true - but should merely remark that my own inclination is heavily reductionist (I hope I'm not misusing that word) and the tree of knowledge cited in the OP is very appealing.

However, this got me thinking about language and how this was a necessary precursor to transmission of complex culture. Certainly any species with young that have prolonged maternal dependency can transmit culture from generation to generation but language was surely necessary for development and transmission of abstract concepts. Once it had emerged, the gate was open for ideas of magic, then religion, and finally science as homo sapiens sought to make sense of the world and control our environment.

My point in mentioning this is it seems to me that foregrounding language in this way offers a mechanism for the desired unification: one that remains rooted firmly in physics.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#26  Postby Imza » Nov 28, 2013 4:56 pm

I too find that article very good, I'm always positively surpirsed when I encounter more works on the subject, I've not seen many of them. If you have any others please send me a PM with the links

Definitely, I’m currently trying to pull together some for philosophy of science in psychology class so I’ll send some your way if I come across some good ones.

Could you give some examples? I don't see what advances could be said to have solved the methodological issues around the accessibility of "covert behaviors" and derived from that one the ones regarding the reliability of introspection and the alleged physiological correlates of constructs. Also controlling variables and using prospective designs at the cultural/social level of analysis remains equally difficult, that is why I said that what we lack are measuring technologies and experimental settings.
In the same sense for instance radical behaviorism doesn't solve those problems either, but it permits to frame the field philosophically in such a way that one is able to explain them away (no mental realm, no ontological dimension of constructs, etc.) until the other required fields advance to the point where they can be researched scientifically (probably neurophysiology and genetics).

Well I guess I was talking about something slightly different. So in terms of advances in covert behavior, I think Skinner rightly pointed out the limits of studying it directly but also pointed out how RD is able to side step that and still study covert behavior. Along those lines, I think theories and methods of relational frame theory (RFT) take it even further to get a much more robust experimental program to study covert behavior (I would argue much more advanced than the whole of cognitive psychology). So in a sense, it’s been the conceptual advances in theory that led to new human behavior analysis (RFT) experiments.

As for social level, I would suggest reading up on David Sloan’s methods towards looking at eusocial animals, studying what makes groups work and what selection pressures are occurring and than applying it across species to see if the same selection pressures hold, how they are modified based on species-specific differences. Moreover, even within traditional behavior analysis, you have people in education (I.e. Dr. George Sugai) who cause behavioral changes at organizational levels and take detailed data on how students are being reinforced and what different selection pressures are applied to students and how that changes their behaviors, thoughts, etc…to me these are at least scaling up to what Skinner would call cultural selection. I think RFT adds quite a bit to this (at least in basic research) on how different symbolic behavior is also selected, even though that research has yet to be done, I see no technological limits as to why it could not be done.

You are right, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, it is just an impression I got from reading the article you linked and some other works, that by presenting the problem and philosophically framing it sometimes it is bypassed, or the conclussions are assumed. A similar concern to the one MacCorquodale and Meehl mention regarding psychoanalytic constructs:


I agree we should be very careful with the constructs we use and especially careful to not assume that because we get our conceptual ducks in row to not confuse that with having explained the phenomena scientifically. This is perhaps why I am more behavioral analytic in my work rather than more mainstream cognitive tradition simply because I think it falls into the same traps but the technical language of cognitive psychology makes it seem more legitimate compared to id, ego, and superego.

With that said, I don’t think that is what Sloan, Hayes, Tony and Emry are suggesting, considering some of them have written on how much we need to pay attention to the warnings of MacCorquodale and Meehl and looking at their research will show they are very careful to avoid those pitfalls.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#27  Postby Imza » Nov 28, 2013 5:20 pm

Surely you understand the problem here? Those concepts utilised in belief attribution - folk psychology - do not suffice as physical explanations of human behaviour. And science deals in physical explanations. So the distinction between science and psychology is clearly apparent


Considering I disagree with an idea of non-physical explanations (Still have no idea what that means), I don’t understand the problem you are trying to highlight.

I do agree that some people have folk-psychology explanations of why certain psychological events occur (soul is the seat of my personality, etc.) but simply having the view doesn’t make it true. People believe in all types of crazy explanations and they can call them natural, physical, supernatural, non-physical, or whatever, but for me these distinctions are pointless. You either of a good explanation or a bad one, it can be scientific (empirical, etc.) but non-scientific ones.

I also don’t claim that all phenomena related to psychology can be explained scientifically, there are certain epistemological limits to science that I don’t think science can ever cross. However, this does not mean that we go to some woo definition of the phenomena instead, we can either infer out to what we do know from scientific psychology or we can simply say “we don’t know”, not “we don’t know, therefore metaphysical woo-explanation”

It's an issue if you want to talk about the unification of psychology and science, as per the thread title; and it's an issue if you want to claim that psychology is science when science is about physical explanations.


Your missing the point of the thread, the unification is two folds.

One is to unite disparate scientific fields within psychology that all do good work but don’t have an overriding theory like evolution in biology that links them theoretically. This doesn’t negate good science in psychology but if we can get that unification, it will greatly enhance the science that we can do. As such, I’m interested in unification.

The second is unification across sciences, how does the explanations from physics relate to chemistry to biology and psychology, etc. Now this activity is partly more philosophical in trying to put a larger picture of what all sciences show us when put together and how they relate to each other but as I have argued before in this thread, it also points to interesting scientific questions at the joints of the different fields (i.e., how did non-organic matter convert o organic matter).

Neither of these has anything to do with is psychology a science.

Terms such as desire, love, anger, beauty, jealousy, happiness, etc., are normally used (by everyone, not just psychologists) to explain and predict human behaviour. It works too. Surely you don't need me to provide examples?

Well you are making the claim so I need you to provide me evidence. I change and predict human behavior for a living and even though intuitively I think I can predict human behavior very accurately in folk psychological terms, I also know that once I collect my data, my analysis is often if not most of the time counter intuitive to my folk psychological belief and leads to robust changes in behavior after isolating the key variables that are predicted to influence behavior.

There is decades of research on these findings so I don’t think I can just simply take your word for it. Off course I do agree that in many cases there is room for folk psychology where the situation does not allow for a scientific analysis (observer effects, sociality unacceptable to be collecting data on people, ethical issues with experimenting with people). However, I don’t think you made the case for those cases in which we can do that.

That's called sticking your head in the sand. This whole issue hinges upon the distinction between physical and non-physical concepts. Science uses physical concepts. Non-physical concepts are not acceptable as a physical explanation… a scientific explanation. That's why belief attribution - no matter how well it works - is a problem for science and anyone who wants to talk like a scientist.

I haven't said that psychology is rubbish. I've merely tried to explain why it isn't a science. As an idealist, I am not invested in the requirement for a physical explanation for everything.

I simply have to disagree. I may have been to dismissive of the physical/non-physical distinction. I think philosophically it is important to engage with.

With that said however, I don’t think anyone has ever been able to give me a good explanation to actually believe that such a distinction should be held. I personally am a neutral monists, I don’t think it even makes sense to talk about “physical” because it implies a “non-physical”. Even when physicists are pushed to explain what physical means, they can’t describe good boundaries of it. However, that doesn’t commit the person to a dualist view of the world, simply a neutral monist one (IMHO).

It’s a view I think our very own Paul Almond explains much more concisely than I can in my limited time to write on boards:

http://www.control-z.com/against_supern.html
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#28  Postby Asta666 » Nov 29, 2013 6:10 am

Imza wrote:but also pointed out how RD is able to side step that and still study covert behavior.

RD? Do you mean Richard Dawkins :o :lol: ?

Imza wrote:Along those lines, I think theories and methods of relational frame theory (RFT) take it even further to get a much more robust experimental program to study covert behavior (I would argue much more advanced than the whole of cognitive psychology). So in a sense, it’s been the conceptual advances in theory that led to new human behavior analysis (RFT) experiments..

Could you recommend me some material about that (especially the methodology employed and the hypotheses concerning covert behavior)?
I've read some works on RFT and I can understand the approach taken to the study of overt behaviors that involve language and communication and how could those functional relationships be tested, but I don't see clearly how it would succeed for cognition and covert behavior, although I'd certainly agree more with the philosophical frame, compared for instance with computational theories of mind and the like.

Imza wrote:As for social level, I would suggest reading up on David Sloan’s methods towards looking at eusocial animals, studying what makes groups work and what selection pressures are occurring and than applying it across species to see if the same selection pressures hold, how they are modified based on species-specific differences. Moreover, even within traditional behavior analysis, you have people in education (I.e. Dr. George Sugai) who cause behavioral changes at organizational levels and take detailed data on how students are being reinforced and what different selection pressures are applied to students and how that changes their behaviors, thoughts, etc…to me these are at least scaling up to what Skinner would call cultural selection. I think RFT adds quite a bit to this (at least in basic research) on how different symbolic behavior is also selected, even though that research has yet to be done, I see no technological limits as to why it could not be done.

I definitely agree that those interventions and observations would be better understood at the dimension of cultural selection. But I guess that at those levels (cultural and symbolic) there is not a strong enough methodological agreement that would allow to consider selection and it's effects and mechanisms as measurable and testable as in the phylogenetic and (overt) behavioral ones, despite the fact that probably few would doubt the general idea of evolution and selection influencing culture.

I finished reading that paper and I found the analogy with the immune system and the idea of Darwin machines very appealing (although I'd pick another name for the last one :ask:), allowing to present the general ideas in a very consistent and understandable way :thumbup: .
The behavioral account sets the task for the physiologist. Mentalism on the other hand has done a great disservice by leading physiologists on false trails in search of the neural correlates of images, memories, consciousness, and so on. Skinner
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#29  Postby Imza » Nov 30, 2013 6:25 pm

Asta666 wrote:
RD? Do you mean Richard Dawkins :o :lol: ?

Haha, I meant RB = Radical behaviorism

Could you recommend me some material about that (especially the methodology employed and the hypotheses concerning covert behavior)?
I've read some works on RFT and I can understand the approach taken to the study of overt behaviors that involve language and communication and how could those functional relationships be tested, but I don't see clearly how it would succeed for cognition and covert behavior, although I'd certainly agree more with the philosophical frame, compared for instance with computational theories of mind and the like.

Material I would suggest is the “purple book”
http://www.amazon.com/Relational-Frame- ... B001C7Y99S

I have to warn you, I had pretty extensive behavioral training but this book gave me a run for my money. However, it was very satisfying once I was able to really understanding the conceptual and experimental work that RFT is based off. It’s also a bit dated as far as RFT goes today but it’s still the starting point for anyone looking to see what it is all about. Once your done with that, I would suggest the newer version:

http://www.amazon.com/Advances-Relation ... m_kstore_4

I’m working through this one now myself but it talks about new experimental procedures that go beyond the simple matching-to-sample procedures used in equivalence testing. They also talk about some inherent biases that often come up in basic experimental behavior analysis as a result of using matching to sample as well as limits regarding studying more complex relational phenomena.

Well actually that is what I meant by relating the logic of Skinner and RB in terms of covert behavior analysis. Skinner made no distinction between covert and overt behavior in terms of concepts, only in terms of epistemological access to the phenomena.

Relational frame theory is fundamentally the same but it changes Skinner’s conception of verbal behavior and offers a new conceptualization (moving from direct operant accounts to relational accounts). This allows it explain what it purports to explain with far greater control and predictive power. These new explanations and conceptualizations in RFT hold equally for both overt and covert behavior but the only “real” functional distinction that is made is the classic one, direct operant behavior and verbal behavior (here referring to when events are framed relationally). As such, most of the interesting covert behavior that people wish to know about are “verbal behavior” or “complex interactions and networks of relational frames”.

To give an example that was brought up earlier, RFT researchers have been studying perspective taking, especially in terms of “theory of mind” (TOM) as complex interactions among multiple frames (frames involved in time (now/then), place (here/there) and perspective (I, you, us, we, etc…)). All of these frames are tested overtly but the activities involved in TOM in general psychology research are considered covert cognitive activity. Traditional behavior analysis could work with TOM related skills (Autism treatments) but it was only in very general way and there were no good “behavior analytic explanations” of what TOM skills really are. There certainly were not good experiments for it. However, RFT provides a conceptual/experimental background that allows the researchers to study TOM to the point where they are doing things that previously was thought to be impossible (directly teaching TOM skills in developmentally delayed students, etc.). To me these are radical advances in how we study covert cognitive behavior.

I definitely agree that those interventions and observations would be better understood at the dimension of cultural selection. But I guess that at those levels (cultural and symbolic) there is not a strong enough methodological agreement that would allow to consider selection and it's effects and mechanisms as measurable and testable as in the phylogenetic and (overt) behavioral ones, despite the fact that probably few would doubt the general idea of evolution and selection influencing culture.

I agree but I do think it is getting there, especially with group selection theories in evolution (David Sloan’s work) that at least start to give us a non-human template (David’s actually started applying these with humans with great success). Combine that with RFT research for symbolic evolution (among others, biologists like Eva Jablanka and colleagues have done some good work on symbolic evolution too), I think we have all the pieces in place, the work just remains to be done.

These two areas are I think the two problems we traditionally encountered regarding study of culture, one being of scale and not having proper and rigorous group methods separate from individual behavior and the second one is the lack of understanding symbolic evolution and how ideas in cultures evolve.


I finished reading that paper and I found the analogy with the immune system and the idea of Darwin machines very appealing (although I'd pick another name for the last one :ask:), allowing to present the general ideas in a very consistent and understandable way :thumbup: .

I’m glad you liked it, it will be published in Brain and Behavioral Sciences (soon hopefully) and if you know that journal, you know they have extensive commentary from experts in the field. I’ll be very curious to see the critics and supporters of the paper, as the commentaries in BBS are often more interesting and thought provoking than the original paper itself!

Also, check your PM, I have another unpublished article I can share privately that I’m not at liberty to share in public forum yet. I think you’ll find it interesting, it’s related to evolution and how it is hypothesized that operant behavior (and relational operants along with symbolic behavior) emerged in evolutionary history.
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Re: Unification of Psychology (and science?)

#30  Postby Mr.Samsa » Apr 11, 2014 5:03 am

I'm really late here and I'll probably miss some posts that I should comment on but here are my views anyway:

Imza wrote:I've been looking into a lot of the research related to consilience in science (and all knowledge broadly), reading E.O. Wilson's classic book "Consilience" and came across some interesting integration theories. I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts on this topic!

E.O. Wilson and to some extent David Sloan Wilson seem to be pushing for consilience of life sciences, with evolutionary theory serving as the link between all fields (biology, psychology, economics, anthropology, etc...) but there seems to be many different ways of doing this. E.O. Wilson appears to be taking the greedy reductionist account and saying that everything will reduce to biology eventually whereas others have simply claimed that all these fields need to be consistent with each other (psychological facts should not contradict biological facts).


I agree with your view here in that Wilson's view of consilience is quite problematic and weird how (from what I've read) he seems to want to stop at the level of biology when surely his reductionism would require him to push further. The Rationally Speaking podcast actually has a good episode on the topic of consilience and the unity of knowledge.

The better approach, in my opinion, is what you suggest: finding a way to make fields of science consistent with each other.

Imza wrote:Anyways, I actually was more interested in thinking more narrowly about a unifying theory in psychology and while I think evolution has a lot of promise, I'm not so sure it solves psychology's supposed problem of lacking a unifying theory. Evolution seems to be better for linking the life sciences together and while it is certainly relevant to psychology, I think something like behaviorism comes much closer to a unifying theory.


Again, I agree and I saw the back and forth with Asta. I'd suggest that most of the confusion here comes from different usages and understandings of "theory". I think some people argue that a science must have an underlying theory in the sense of a normal scientific theory that is simply relevant to the whole field, like evolution to biology, and others argue something closer to Kuhn's concept of paradigm, where it's not so much a scientific theory but rather an systematic framework for categorising and investigating the subject matter.

Both things are important but the main one when discussing something as a science would be the latter. The paradigm for psychology is (at least to me) radical behaviorism. There are debates within and about the philosophy but ultimately its basic principles for what we study and how we should study them are universally accepted. The first sense of theory, on the other hand, is a little more difficult in psychology because it is such a wide field. My best attempt would be that the concept of reinforcement would be the overarching theory.

Imza wrote:In addition, while researching this topic, I also came across the "Tree of Knowledge" account, which is sold as a unification of psychology but really goes further to try and unify all sciences. I have to read more into it but it seems like a very interesting take on the old problem of consilience.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_Knowledge_System

..a new unified theory of knowledge that maps the pieces of the scientific puzzle in a novel way that connects Quantum Mechanics to Sociological processes and everything in between into a coherent whole. The most novel aspect of the ToK is its visuo-spatial depiction of knowledge as consisting of four dimensions of complexity (Matter, Life, Mind, and Culture) that correspond to the behavior of four classes of objects (material objects, organisms, animals, and humans), and four classes of science (physical, biological, psychological, and social).


Image


It's an interesting possible description of the hierarchy of sciences but I agree with Asta's comment that it's essentially a flow chart with no information on why we go from one bit to another. I don't understand how or why it's a useful concept.

Imza wrote:
It's a pity Mr. Samsa isn't around. I'd like to hear his respected opinion on the subject. Instead of the shite I'm listening to here.
Ha, I’ll tell Mike you miss him. I certainly do miss him myself, great poster. However, I find it ironic that you want to talk to him considering he would tell you virtually the same thing you heard in this thread. He’d certainly take you apart on the issue of using Dennett as an authority in psychology, your claims about folk psychology having greater explanatory power and your views that psychology is woo. I’m no samsa but I’m happy to make the same points, perhaps he would be more patient in taking you apart on those issues.


Yep, you have no difficulty speaking for me as you pretty much hit every point that I had planned on making in response to Jamest. :lol:

jamest wrote:
Do some homework. I've studied philosophy and psychology at degree level. It's clear to me, by your question, that you are clueless. I wouldn't mind so much, if it wasn't for the arrogant attitude.

And now, having made my point, I will ignore the rest of your post.


You can disagree with him if you want Jamest but if you were interested in my opinion on the topic then Imza is basically the best representation of it in my absence. I'd even argue that his comments are an improvement of my own, given that he knows more about psychology and philosophy than I do.

If you think he is wrong on something, I'd strongly doubt that it's due to any "cluelessness" about those fields.
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Mr.Samsa
 
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