Attitudes, leprechauns and neutrinos: The ontology of behavioral science

Philosophical Studies 60 (1-2):5 - 17 (1990)
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Although the historical dispute between introspective psychology and ontological behaviorism encourages the belief that attitudes do not exist, this belief is misguided. Even the Hacking test, suggested by someone with grave doubts about behavioral science, supports the claim that attitudes are “just as real as neutrinos.” Nevertheless, the progress of a science of attitudes may be severely limited by the influence of exogenous factors, factors including normative beliefs about how we should treat the people to whom attitudes are attributed. In so far as these beliefs prevent scientists from experimenting on people and their institutions, particle physics has resources unavailable to survey research. Thus a serious examination of behavioral science leads to some surprising conclusions as to which sciences are the “hard” ones and which ones are simply easier.



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Marthe Chandler
DePauw University

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References found in this work

Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1983 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):381-390.
Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Humanities Press.

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