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A constructivists perspective on Objectivity in Psychological science

Mr Michael Bibby s4032484 at student.uq.edu.au
Tue Jan 20 00:07:04 EST 2004

>from: 'Constructivism and narrative psychology'
>©© Luis Botella Ramon Llull University
>MB (quoting Luis Ramon): During a significant part of its not so long
>history, psychology uncritically
>accepted the basic assumptions of what has been termed an objectivist
>epistemology. Some of these basic assumptions, chiefly derived from
>and logical empiricism, are as follows. First, objectivist psychology
>endorses a
>mechanistic worldview, seeing the world--and its inhabitants--as a complex
>machine, and events in nature as the product of the transmittal of forces.
>GS: Curiously, this is true of mainstream psychology, and it was true for
>some forms of behaviorism (which is basically the only alternative to
>mainstream psychology). A good many radical behaviorists do not view
>themselves as "mechanistic." Using Pepper's terminology, they view
>themselves as "contextualists." Another way to look at it is that they are
>"selectionists." But, of course, none of this goes to the issue of alleged
>flaws in the "mechanistic" world view. I agree, though, that mainstream
>psychology and much of what it has contaminated is a sort of S-R psychology
>that implicitly or explicitly views the effects of controlling stimuli
>(controlling in the immediately antecedent sense; they have little
>appreciation for the role of contingencies) as a sort of transfer of energy.
>Indeed, it is quite a curious view. The environment is seen as entering the
>organism and then "coming out" as behavior. It is related, of course, to the
>nonsensical view that "language" is a sort of representation of the
>MB (quoting Luis Ramon): Second, objectivist psychology views knowledge as a
>process of value-free
>observation and accumulation of discrete pieces of evidence; that is, what
>termed accumulative fragmentalism.
>GS: Hmm.....this strikes me as untrue.....to the extent that it is even
>understandable.....in any event, what is wrong with mainstream psychology is
>that it views knowledge as a "thing" that causes behavior.
>MB (quoting Luis Ramon): Third, objectivist psychology accepts
>truth-value as the only valid criteria for justifying a proposition.
>GS: My guess is that most psychologists don't really know what you (or
>Ramon) are trying to say here. I know I don't. Mainstream psychologists
>"justify propositions" by rejecting the straw-man null hypothesis. Well, I
>guess you could say that they think they are "estimating truth-value."
>MB (quoting Luis Ramon): Fourth, the
>objectivist application of these and other assumptions to the study of human
>beings gives place to a view of people as reactive and passive organisms,
>determined by their environment in an almost unidirectional way.
>GS: I agree that this is, to a great extent, true of mainstream psychology
>(though they would object, no doubt, citing things like "active processing"
>etc.). It is not true of behaviorism, however. The first sentence, for
>example, in Skinner's Verbal Behavior is "Men act upon the world and change
>it, and are changed in turn by the consequences of their actions." Or
>something very close to that.
>MB (quoting Luis Ramon): However, during the last decades a growing body of
>research has acknowledged the
>general inadequacy of objectivism applied to the study of human beings.
>GS: Hardly. Plus, I disagree that what Ramon is calling "objectivism" is how
>all "objectivists" go about their business.

Its great to see some critical thinking in action, something which I believe
psychological literature is missing; as Wittgenstein said: 'in psychology there
are experimental methods and conceptual confusion'. Im not here to defend
anyone, least of all myself. I trust that you will excersize your own judgment
on these matters and make up your own mind, i was merely orienting to a
different perspective on experimental pscyhology, my own form of experimental
psychology is a form of 'operationalism' (i.e., Bridgman) crossed with a little
'pragmatism' with a blend of 'constructivism' and a dash of 'cybernetics'.
Peace out


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