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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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. The scientific approach has added to the credibility and status of psychology- as seen in the beginning of the 20th Century for Behaviourism with Watson.  Reductionism contributes to parsimonious explanations. E.g. phobias and how they are linked to being learned. Physiological factors clearly play an important part in much psychological functioning- serotonin linked with depression.  There are practical difficulties in trying to take a more holistic or interactionist approach when investigating psychological questions given the difficulty of such a method. It seems to create the possibility of fully scientific psychology with all behaviour and experience being ultimately explained by physiology. It links well with other scientific practices such as physiology, biology, neuro-science and artificial intelligence, as well as physiology. Perhaps most of all, it links psychology directly to the flourishing discipline of genetics and findings from the human genome project.  

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Since all animals are made up of atoms, our behaviour must be explainable at this level, i.e. can be reduced to a physical level. This leads to two main assumptions.  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 ...

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