On the Testability of Psychological Generalizations

Philosophy of Science 58 (4):586-606 (1991)
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Abstract

Rosenberg argues that intentional generalizations in the human sciences cannot be law-like because they are not amenable to significant empirical refinement. This irrefinability is said to result from the principle that supposedly controls in intentional explanation also serving as the standard for successful interpretation. The only credible evidence bearing on such a principle would then need conform to it. I argue that psychological generalizations are refinable and can be nomic. I show how empirical refinement of psychological generalizations is possible by considering concrete cases. A sufficiently detailed view of the role of psychological generalizations in interpretation allows us to find in psychological investigations instances of bootstrap testing.

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David Henderson
University of Nebraska, Lincoln