Re: [xmca] Psychology and formalization

From: <fauxr who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jul 22 2008 - 15:39:28 PDT


May I suggest the work of Uljana Feest. Her work in the history and
philosophy of science has touched on many of these issues. Her
dissertation of was an examination of the use of operational definitions
in the work of Hull, Tolman, and Stevens.

Take care,

Robert Faux
Duquesne University

> I tend to agree with you in that certain epistemological grounds
> (e.g., foundational constructs, assumptions about domains of
> application) of the disciplines seem to be more consistent than others
> with the aim of formalization. As Mike said, formalizations (either
> mathematical or otherwise) are no doubt useful as representations upon
> which one can operate and engage in inference (denotation and
> operation in standard modeling theory). The question is however that
> at times formalization seems not only a useful heuristic strategy, but
> also a form of coding of theoretical sentences and propositions that
> stands in and of itself as an ideal, as a goal related to the kinds of
> explanations (e.g., deductive) that are desirable. The changing nature
> of the unit of analysis in cultural analysis is a good reason not to
> be to prone to formalization. Discourse and explanations as
> interpretation seem to be another one. Just passing thoughts.
> Jorge
> Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns
> Profesor Asociado y Director
> Departamento de Psicología
> Universidad de los Andes
> On Jul 22, 2008, at 3:02 PM, David H Kirshner wrote:
>> Jorge,
>>> From my perspective there seem to be two types of theoretical
>>> enterprises in psychology. Some theories like behaviorism and
>>> cognitive science tend to adopt well defined units of analysis
>>> which means the theoretical foundations can be formulated within a
>>> closed set of constructs. The trajectory of such theoretical
>>> enterprises tends to be outward from a relatively restricted domain
>>> of application to broader psychological concerns (often without
>>> success). Other theories like sociocultural theory and situated
>>> cognition theory opt for a more complex, dialectically framed unit
>>> of analysis. These theories tend to easily encompass the broad
>>> concerns of the field, but struggle to settle on a particular,
>>> agreed upon set of foundational elements. Both of these approaches
>>> are legitimate scholarly enterprises, but only the theories with
>>> stable foundational constructs seems to be subject to formalization
>>> or mathematization.
>> David Kirshner
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [mailto:xmca-
>>] On Behalf Of Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns
>> Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 1:36 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [xmca] Psychology and formalization
>> Hi, all,
>> I've been reading these days some of Edward Tolman's work trying to
>> trace some points of departure that preceded the cognitive revolution.
>> It's a fascinating work. One of the most striking features of Tolman's
>> prose is Tolman's attempt to phrase theories in a formal manner,
>> either logical or mathematical, and attempt that is strengthened by
>> the molecular kind of concepts and phenomenic distinctions he draws.
>> Certainly, formalization is, as Baudrillard suggested, concurrent to
>> attempts to mathematize reality, to model it, a cornerstone of modern
>> science. And psychology is full of examples, some of them successful,
>> some of them failed, from Hull's learning theory to Estes' notions of
>> statistical learning, from John Anderson's production systems to
>> recent theorization on causal learning as a Bayesian net or
>> development as a dynamic system. What's the take of cultural
>> psychology on formalizing phenomena? That is, beyond the use of mere
>> pictorial representations or the use of statistics on aggregate data.
>> It seems to me that it's even an interesting issue with regard to
>> Vygotsky, who certainly had the intellectual means and the
>> mathematical and logical resources to have taken that road.
>> Cheers,
>> Jorge Larreamendy
>> Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns
>> Profesor Asociado y Director
>> Departamento de Psicología
>> Universidad de los Andes
>> jlarream
>> xmca mailing list
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