Current Issues in Theoretical Psychology: Sel/Edited Proc of by William J. Baker

By William J. Baker

Present concerns in Theoretical Psychology

Selected Edited court cases of the Founding convention of The foreign Society for Theoretical Psychology held in Plymouth, U.K.
30 August–2 September 1985

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Thoughts can be about experience and they are part ofour experience at the same time. Therefore the concepts of knowledge and experience are relative concepts, dependent upon each other in a different way than realistic or idealistic epistemologies deny or defend. Let me point out two implications of this. First, the dual relationship relativizes the presentationalism vs. representationalism controversy in cognitive psychology. For viewing thoughts (mental events) in their back-stage role of conceptual representations o f on-stage experience does not exclude viewing them also as part ofthe presented larger stage of experience.

If this position is accepted, one of the major arguments against conditioning as the basis of cognition has been met. A determined process could be responsible for what we erroneously believe to be an untrammelled activity. It should be added that laws are empirically deduced 26 Theoretical Psychology from observations, which in themselves are probabilistic. Space limitations preclude a full discussion of the nature of laws, especially the laws ofchance, as these are largely axiomatic, and the implicit assumptions of probability implied in determinism.

There is a widespread opinion that psychological properties, and biological properties as well, cannot be explained from properties at lower levels of aggregation. In contradistinction, disciplines like physics and chemistry are considered as being reductionistic. With respect to psychology, the term physicalism is often used as more or less synonymous with scientific reductionism. In this paper I shall argue that physics is as little reductionistic as biology and psychology and that the view that it is, is based on an erroneous view of the epistemology of physics.

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