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Reductionism is useful, but only on simple systems rather than complex systems, as we need to focus on other variables such religion, socio-biology and culture.

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Introduction

Outline reductionism Reductionism is where you break something really complex into a simpler explanation. All scientists (i.e. physicians, biologists and chemists) are interested in reductionist explanations and methods of research because reductionism is a useful tool, in the sciences and that it has led to major discoveries such as cures for illnesses and a better lifestyle. Rose identified three kinds of reductionism. Experimental reductionism, which reduces complex behaviours to operationalised variables that can be manipulated to determine cause and effect relationships. Reductionism is also an approach to the explanation in psychology, as the best explanations are those with the fewest sets of laws or principles. The principle of parsimony, or Occam's razor, states that, all explanations are equal, but the simpler explanation is to be preferred. Reductionism also serves as a philosophy that underlies psychology and science in general. If all science is unitary we should be able to reduce all explanations of behaviour to physical laws, and there should a universal language that all sciences speak. Outline and evaluate the cases for reductionism b. This kind of approach allows psychology to be scientific, as it enables a complex idea break down into simple predictions, which can be tested in a controlled way as seen in Peterson and Peterson trigram's experiment. ...read more.

Middle

First, behaviour is nothing more than the sum of its parts. Second, there is no special 'life force' added to the mix, no mental events that are independent of physical events: every physical event has a physical cause. However, there are argues against reductionism, as there is not necessarily complete continuity between humans and other animals. Schizophrenia, intelligence is different in each animal. Another, reason that could be against reductionism is that a reductionist approach may not give us meaningful information. For example, explaining signing one's name in terms of the muscle movements used tells us nothing about the meaning of this action. Also, cultural factors are not explained well by reductionist explanations, which is a weakness in itself. A further weakness of reductionism is that behaviour is too variable and influenced by too many factors for reductionist explanations to be helpful on their own. For example, humans are affected by social groups and culture to which they belong; this kind of factor is not taken into account. A further argument against reductionism is that, a more holistic or interactionist approach gives us a more realistic picture of human behaviour and experience. ...read more.

Conclusion

If lower levels (e.g. physiological or behavioural explanations) are viewed in isolation, the meaning of behaviour may be overlooked, which may lead to fundamental errors of understanding. Wolpe misinterpreted the women's fear of insects, when in reality it was her husband, who had a nickname, and she was worried about their marital problem. So focusing on behavioural levels and ignoring meaning would have been wrong. Overall, Reductionism is useful, but only on simple systems rather than complex systems, as we need to focus on other variables such religion, socio-biology and culture. As these are seen as important factors as well, as Freud once said, psychologists need not only depend on medicine, but on literature, history, culture and sociology to make a great psychologist, because he believed that we needed to depend on other factors. We may not able to reduce now, but later in the future it might be possible. Also, reductionism has lead to major discoveries, but some discoveries have been proven wrong, such as smallpox, they said you need this certain drug to cure it, yet cowpox cured smallpox, so even in biology, reductionism isn't as useful as it seems. You have to have a wider picture to understand it all, as thinking that one factor is the cause; can be seen as entirely wrong. ...read more.

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