Types of reductionism

lists statements in relation to the three types of reductionism; biological, physiological and environmental

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  • Created on: 05-03-12 21:34
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Types of Reductionism
Biological reductionism
Reducing behaviour to simple, single causes (genes) ignores the complexity of
human experience
Evidence for the existence of such genes as the `selfish gene' is always going to
pose problems
This is an attempt to reduce behaviour to the action of genes (e.g.
intelligence/personality). The sociobiological approach considers the idea of the
selfish gene as the motive for all behaviour is to perpetuate one's own genes
(e.g. altruism and xenophobia)
Twins studies: high levels of concordance are often interpreted as if a trait (e.g.
intelligence) was completely inherited ­ this is rarely the case
Physiological reductionism
It allows for concrete scientific research into specific areas e.g. with
schizophrenia the neurotransmitter called dopamine (when in excess) seems to
be a characteristic
The attempt to explain all behaviour in terms of neurochemical/biochemical
processes, including higher mental processes (hopes, feelings etc)
Environmental reductionism
Simple lab based research (e.g. pigeons) may give an insight into learning but
animal behaviour may be the result of many complex influences
Behaviourists believe that we are controlled by forces over which we have no
control. The basic unit in this approach is the stimulus-response (S-R) link:
complex behaviour is no more than a series of S-R links
Behaviour is very complex. Dopamine excess in schizophrenia may be
important, but it is very possible that although biological factors may establish
a predisposition, environmental triggers help to `bring on' the disorder
This doesn't take mental experiences into account

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