Abstract

In this introductory article, we provide a historical and philosophical framework for studying crisis discussions in psychology. We first trace the various meanings of crisis talk outside and inside of the sciences. We then turn to Kuhn's concept of crisis, which is mainly an analyst's category referring to severe clashes between theory and data. His view has also dominated many discussions on the status of psychology: Can it be considered a "mature" science, or are we dealing here with a pre- or multi-paradigmatic discipline? Against these Kuhnian perspectives, we point out that especially, but not only in psychology distinctive crisis declarations and debates have taken place since at least the late 19th century. In these, quite different usages of crisis talk have emerged, which can be determined by looking at (a) the content and (b) the dimensions of the declarations, as well as (c) the functions these declarations had for their authors. Thus, in psychology at least, 'crisis' has been a vigorous actor's category, occasionally having actual effects on the future course of research. While such crisis declarations need not be taken at face value, they nevertheless help to break the spell of Kuhnian analyses of psychology's history. They should inform ways in which the history and philosophy of psychology is studied further. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-433
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Crisis in science
  • Historiography
  • Kuhn
  • Philosophy of psychology

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