Listening recently to a SuchThatCast podcast I came across a discussion about whether Psychology is really a science (ever since Kant the Philosophers seem to be piling on). It contains the following observations from Selmer Bringsjord:
Starts about 29 minutes in,
It seems odd that the psychology of reasoning and decision making, just look at that sub-field, even there there isn’t a deep formal understanding of what is being talked about and if that’s not the prime candidate for a place where you could do it I don’t know what is. So, clearly there is a deep cultural and emotional aversion to doing this kind of thing. We should be able to say here are the seven major contending theories in the psychology of reasoning and decision making and here are in each case the body of formal results that they have and then start to do some contrasting and comparing. You can only do little splinters of that sort of thing.
Finishes about 29:45
I have to say I agree. Psychology should be more reliant on formal methods. I don’t think most of us in Psychology really know what a “real” theory looks like. A theory is not an intuitively appealing verbal account of the subset of the available data that we happen to know about or that we have carved off for aesthetic reasons or some intuitions regarding coherence. Theories should entail unambiguous and testable consequences. They should not be post-hoc just so stories. There can, and should be, arguments over whether a particular theory is right. But if you are arguing about what a particular theory implies or what it means, you have identified pseudo-theorizing.