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Hazards of "Emergentism" in Psychology

Thomas, Roger K. (2001) Hazards of "Emergentism" in Psychology. In Proceedings Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Louisville, KY, USA.

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Abstract

Two kinds of emergents were identified as being in current use in psychology. The most common use of emergents tends to involve their reification, and such use is considered here to be detrimental to psychology's development as a science. Such "emergentism" is also considered to have similarities with vitalism, an older belief in biology that life depended on a "life force" or "vital principle" that could not be reduced to physico-chemical processes. Significant progress in biology occurred after vitalism was widely rejected, and, similarly, psychology must reject emergentism in order to progress. After comparing the hazards of vitalism and emergentism, consideration was given to an appropriate use of emergents in psychology. Finally, because the symposium focused on research in animal cognition, the contrasting views of Rumbaugh, Washburn, and Hillix (1996) and the views of Thomas on the role of emergents in animal cognition were addressed.

EPrint Type:Conference Paper
Keywords:animal cognition, animal behavior, behavioral neuroscience, emergentism, emergents, hypothetical construct, materialism, mechanistic explanation, reductionism, superordinate intervening variable, reification, vitalism
Subjects:Psychology > Animal/Comparative/Ethology
Psychology > Neurology/Neuroscience
Theory > Materialism
ID Code:11
Deposited By:Thomas, Roger K.
Deposited On:13 June 2001