July 28, 2013

Issue Editor's Foreword in Rev. of Gen. Psy. 2013, 17(2), p.124

"Most readers will readily accept and value conclusive research." is what I took to heart today, something I know is true for myself as well, but perhaps is easily forgotten in a sometimes near-chaotic discipline. In the foreword to a series of "manifestos, vision statements and wishlists", Eric Charles, explains the motivation behind gathering them. The focus is usually on criticising dogmatic theories, then explaining theory and lastly the, often exciting, empirical findings. I wish I could say I was an exception to the rule. My whole Master Thesis holds that exact structure. The shame. Eric Charles is entirely correct in his reflections surrounding why the opposite order of presentation is much, much, more productive. This is however not a day of shame, because, I enjoy the feeling of being proven wrong, or having my ideas and methods contested and criticised (indirectly, well, directly too, but admittedly indirectly is a more pleasant encounter). Instead then, the series of articles focus on empirical accomplishments with positive tones and forward-looking. Will most likely be a fascinating read.

[The following 19 blogposts will reflect the 19 approaches represented in this review.]

July 21, 2013

Ecological Psychology and Everyday Conflicts

EP has given me a few thoughts about some issues I've had in philosophy. The first one being that of seeing the world in one's subjective sense compared to an objective sense. This is often up for debate when discussing anything involving the question; what really happened? Because, as everyone will assure you of, their own subjective version of a story is the, at least more so, correct one. As many have found though, "truth" (considered using "truthiness" here... again... pass for now... again...), is often found somewhere in between the two accounts. So why is this important when involving EP and philosophy?

Well, roughly, social constructionism (SC) will tell you that both versions are correct and will, practically, end in some form of compromise (good) or further polarisation (not so good) of the two parties. There is no use in deciding which is more correct or delving deeper into the actual accounts, just that each version is correct in their own right because that was the experience of each of the two parties.

Critical realism (CR) will state that there was a reality to the situation but both accounts are skewed in each party's own favour -so it would be necessary to try and extract an objective version out of the two subjective versions. Doing this, in my perspective, rather entails creating a third subjective perspective -more so than one being objective (however a side-note in my argument because it becomes important to define subjective and objective and what they entail and why I would define the third perspective as subjective rather than objective. However. As with much in philosophy, definitions aren't clear cut and will most probably be a long and pointless discussion with exceptions to the rule).

Instead, what insight can EP give us into the practical application of philosophy in our lives? EP would focus on the perspective of each of the two accounts and validate both, like SC. However, with the addition of each perspective being unique, relying on the mechanisms of perception, there is some ground to actually state that they are both valid (unlike SC, which demands validity outright). The consequence here is that with EP one is allowed to reconcile the two perspectives on the same level as they are stated -CR here needs to abstract the two subjective versions to one objective version. I believe then, that due to the non-existence of an objective/subjective dichotomy -one is forced by EP to acknowledge the experience of both parties and look at cause and effect between the two accounts through the process of the situation as it unfolded. The to and fro, if you will. One is not forced to do this, if guided by either SC or CR. SC is too egalitarian and naive in its supposition and has a hard time consolidating two very different perspectives, especially when they are very specific. CR on the other hand entails the assumption that neither account holds the "correct" version as there is an objective version that is superior.

My conclusion then, is that EP doubles back into philosophy and gains us a fuller account of 'what really happened', gives more information about how a specific situation unfolded, and in turn, gives you more leads to use when attempting to resolve the dispute.

A first note; CR, I find, is used most often in everyday life and also most often works decently well. EP gives you an extra edge in all parts of the process however.

A secondary note; it is quite fun (and easy) to define, in any type of dispute in real life, what philosophical backdrop people use when resolving, maintaining or escalating a conflict. Every philosophical perspective has its merits and flaws and de-escalating a conflict can be quite an easy task if you can identify and practically use to your advantage the specific perspective taken by other parties. Add pedagogy and conflict de-escalation/resolution is within reach.

A last note; positivism is not brought up simply because at that level of abstraction (even further than CR), it is of even less help (than for example CR) -although, as has been written, each perspective has its merits and flaws, and are usable situationally.

A second last note; I miss teaching (and research, although I have available many journals), won't this summer vacation ever end?

July 13, 2013

Ecological Psychology and Occam's Razor

Occam's Razor (OR) isn't usually applied between competing theories, but there are known examples of this also; some astrophysics mathematical equation was found by an American and was simpler (and accurate enough) than one by a Russian and so the former was/is used. Apologies for the lack of reference and specificity in the example. OR is also not an irrefutable principle of logic, or so Wikipedia says.

Ecological Psychology (EP), with both less assumptions and simpler rules guiding scientific discovery should be supported by the principle when comparing to computational theories. Even within EP, a goal is to try and find the most simple heuristic or rule-governed process for a given behaviour, maintaining the principle.

It should be said that OR has obvious issues, the foremost perhaps being that it does not guarantee truth (considered using "truthiness" here.. pass for now..) or correctness. It just says that the simpler explanation is more often the likely case.

Accepting that computationalism doesn't really provide an explanation of the human condition, or at least that it does a worse job than EP, then we can be (at the very least, temporarily) justified to rely on EP based on this logical principle instead of computationalism.


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