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12/26/2018 10:40 pm  #1

Psychology as a Science

I'm going to make a case that is stronger than what I actually believe, but is something I have been pondering, and would enjoy some feedback:

I've a read a number of articles like this one:

If this replicability crisis is not solved is it not damning of psychology as a real science?  In addition to the replication problems, psychology doesn't seem to an agreed upon understanding of what the mind actually is.  For example, most people agree that psychology is the science that studies the brain. But, what is the relationship between mind and brain? Most see them as connected, but no one has a plausible account of how they are connected specifically.  There is no agreed upon meta-psychology, or general accounting of the structures and powers of the mind.  If something goes wrong with the mind, one can go see a counselor, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, possibly a neurologist, or a priest, and you could probably produce convincing reasons to favor any of those over the others. (Obviously some cases would be easy to determine the correct specialist, but a great many would not be.)  It's certainly  not clear that any of these groups have much better success rates in minor mental illness, like depression or OCD.  Psychoanalysis has been thoroughly ousted from academic psychology (and increasingly so in psychiatry), but some of the latest studies on success rates of these types of illness show that while CBT and related therapies work extremely well short term, psychoanalysis has much better success rates after 5 years of no treatment. 
Perhaps that's not fair though, as healing and medicine are really a type of industry,  and not a pure science.  But even among scientists, is it agreed how to study the mind?  There are still behaviorists, introspectionists, people who merely collect observational correlations and record them...  Isn't it true that a unified phenomena should have a unified method of inquiry?

Is all of this together evidence that psychology isn't a proper science?  Or is it merely in a nascent form?  Is any of this possible evidence that the mind isn't bound to mathematical or computational laws like the modernist and the reductive materialist would have it?
My knowledge of phi of sci is very spotty, so maybe these questions all have easy answers.  If so, I'd love to hear them.


12/26/2018 11:46 pm  #2

Re: Psychology as a Science

What do you think of socionics?


12/27/2018 1:55 am  #3

Re: Psychology as a Science

Due_Kindheartedness wrote:

What do you think of socionics?

I'm not familiar with it, but I just read Wikipedia.  I'm very interested in personality typing though.

     Thread Starter

12/27/2018 2:42 am  #4

Re: Psychology as a Science

But what would a psychological science look like? It would presumably be quite different to something like physics. For almost everyone psychology inhabits a strange and unclear realm. For dualists and other non-materialists, psychology bridges the gap between mind and brain, whereas for many materialists psychology is somehow ultimately reducible to neuroscience (though in practice it is vexingly resistant to such a reduction).

I think there have been real advances in modern psychology, but it certainly needs mooring in a larger understanding of the person and of reality.

One issue you don't mention is the tendency of modern psychology to treat the explanation of the normal as essential and to either the extraordinary or to think it can be easily explained by an extension of the explanation of the normal in human functioning. The Kelly's et. al. go through this issue in detail in their Irreducible Mind. To take a more straightforward example (and ignoring the relatively well supported evidence for psychical phenomena), it is assumed that phenomena like the extraordinary genius of a Srinivasa Ramanujan (which included being able to instantaneously see the number of a taxi was the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways), idiot savants, or the many reported examples of works of art or solutions to maths or science problems that came to their authors apparently complete or nearly so, without conscious construction from them (one thinks, for example, of Housman, who related how most of the verses of one of his poems came to him essentially fully formed whilst walking after having a pint at the pub), can be explained by just extending what we know of normal problem solving. To the Kelly's, and to me, that seems to be get things the wrong way round. We need explanations that are begin with the more extraordinary human capacities and then show how our normal functioning relates to these.


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