Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fight The Power: The Limits Of Empiricism And The Costs Of Positivistic Rigor

Indick, William The Journal of Psychology, 2002, 136(1), 21–36


In this article the author makes a case for the usefulness of the dialectical method as opposed to empirical methods, for studying evolutionary and moral psychology.

The dialectic method is when a hypothesis is presented, and then a second opposite hypothesis is introduced. Through dialogue and argument a third hypothesis emerges and is eventually agreed upon. However, the method always leaves the door open for additional hypotheses; therefore there can be no absolute truth. Instead of facts there are better interpretations of evidence. An argument does not need quantifiable variables to be legitimate. It only needs to prove how it “logically integrates previous arguments while incorporating or addressing conflicting arguments.”

The dialectical method is especially useful in social sciences such as evolutionary and moral psychology, and sociology. The strengths of the dialectical method is that it allows for adjustments in thinking as long as long the arguments relate to the subject matter. Another strength is that it allows for non- quantifiable variables to be easily included in forming hypotheses.

From an intelligence perspective the dialectical method is likely to be useful in more long-term and strategic situations because it can incorporate potential paradigm shifts into the intelligence process. However, because the dialectic method is open-ended by its nature it is likely to not be a useful analytical method at the tactical level.

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