2 Logical Positivism in psychology 1 Flashcards Preview

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What is metaphysics?

The study of general conditions/ingredients of all (anything) that exists.


What kind of question is:
"What features do all existences have in common"
Metaphysical, ontological or epistemological?



What is ontology?

The study of what exists and what does not exist. (As well as what occurs and what does not occur)


"There are 35 students in this lecture hall"

What kind of statement is this: metaphysical, ontological or epistemological?



Any __________ claim presupposes __________ assumptions

Any ontological claim presupposes metaphysical assumptions


What is epistemology?

The study of knowledge and the nature of knowledge and justification. How we justify knowledge claims.


"This finding was made through null-hypothesis testing"

What kind of statement is this: metaphysical, ontological or epistemological?



Who introduced Positivism?

French sociologist August Comte (1798-1857)


Why did Positivists abandon the investigation of causes?

Because causes are largely hidden and thus speculative and metaphysical.


What should Science focus on, according to Positivism?

Science should focus only on observable phenomena.


What were the three stages in Comte's account of the history of human thought?

Stage 1 - religious thinking
Stage 2 - metaphysical thinking (became dirty word i.e. speculation rather than science)
Stage 3 - scientific thinking


Who was Moritz Schlick (1882-1936)?

Physicist, logical positivist and head of the Vienna Circle.


What was the aim of Logical Positivism?

To expunge metaphysical statements from the body of science. Metaphysics was responsible for all the epistemological confusion in the sciences.


Which two kind of statements can be true according to Logical Positivism?

1) Statements which are true as a matter of definition, such as the statements of formal logic and mathematics.

2) Statements evaluated with reference to empirical evidence.


Who imported the ideas of the Logical Positivists to the US?

Harvard psychologist S. S. Stevens


What statements do Logical Positivists say should be the bedrock of Science?

Observation statements.

e.g. This subject's reaction time is 650 ms


If a statement cannot be tested to determine its truth, what is it? (say Logical Positivists)

Metaphysical (speculative) nonsense.


What are theoretical statements?

Statements containing terms that are unobservable.

e.g. The superego consists of a collection of internal objects


What is the Verifiability Principle?

The principle that sentences are meaningful only if capable of being verified by observational test.


What criterion did the Logical Positivists use to demarcate genuine scientific statement from metaphysical nonsense?

The Verifiability Principle


What must you be able to do to a statement for it to meet the verifiability principle?

Describe the way the statement can be verified.


What are 4 problems with relying exclusively on observational statements in Science?

1) Data is always context-specific, specific to one research project

2) Data don’t necessarily help you understand how systems work, if at all?

3) Observations are fallible

4) There is no such thing as a raw datum that does not presuppose theoretical assumptions


What is the logical error underlying the Verifiability Principle?

The logical error of identifying the meaning of a sentence with the method used to determine whether the sentence is true or false.


What is the accusation of 'methodological fetishism' thrown at psychology?

The idea that psychology is driven by methodology, not ontology. That instead of taking phenomena as a starting point, psychology bases its focus on what the methodology (i.e. stats) allows it to study.


In what psychological doctrine is the Verifiability Principle still assumed?

In operationalism.