New Article Round-Up: LSD, Technology, Evolutionism, & Piaget’s New Theory

Jean Piaget

The following four recently published articles may be of interest to AHP readers.

History of Science: “Rehabilitating LSD history in postwar America: Dilworth Wayne Woolley and the serotonin hypothesis of mental illness,” by Kim Hewitt. The abstract reads,

Revisiting the history of postwar LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) research illuminates how the work of a chemist at the Rockefeller Institute contributed to the development of a biochemical paradigm for mental functioning. Dilworth Wayne Woolley proposed one of the first theories of the biochemistry of mental illness based on empirical evidence. His research with LSD and serotonin had wide-ranging repercussions for pharmacology and fit neatly into the emerging medicalization of mental illness. Reevaluating Woolley’s ideas and the fruits of psychopharmacology leads to possible new approaches toward mental health and illness when considered alongside lessons learned from past research with psychedelic substances, and exemplifies a broader paradigm shift in cultural studies toward a biopsychosocial model that acknowledges the intersections between biology and culture.

Theory & Psychology: “Controversies on Evolutionism: On the construction of scientific boundaries in public and internal scientific controversies about evolutionary psychology and sociobiology,” by Nora Ruck. The abstract reads,

This article analyzes several more or less public controversies around evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. It is asked how participants in the debate draw the lines between science and non-science and what is at stake in their boundary work practices. Evolutionists and their critics practice boundary work both in scientific insider debates and in public scientific controversies. All contenders agree that science is characterized by authority relations and disciplinary gatekeepers and that science is distinguished from other social practices and by a certain code of conduct. Evolutionists and their critics differ in their assessment of scientific authorities’ roles and responsibilities, in their definition of scientific code of conduct, and in their conception of the relation between science and society. The analysis offers insights into the social production of knowledge in both scientific and public discourse and into the ways in which scientists negotiate the very nature of science as such.

Theory & Psychology:  “Piaget’s neo-Gödelian turn: Between biology and logic, origins of the New Theory,” by Jeremy Trevelyan Burman. The abstract reads,

Jean Piaget’s research program—which involved the study of child development as a central feature (viz. “stages”), but which can be understood more broadly as advancing a constructive theory of knowledge (i.e., “genetic epistemology”)—is thought by many contemporary developmentalists to have been guided by a coherent, complete, and unchanging meta-theoretical framework: “equilibration.” While this is correct philosophically, it is incorrect historically. Briefly put: the formal meaning of equilibration changed over time, and thus so too did the entirety of the theory that relied upon it. To focus in on one specific change of particular importance, this article examines how Piaget appealed to the changing ideas of Kurt Gödel and their interpretations by French-speaking logicians. This historical analysis (a Foucauldian archaeology) thereby excavates a “neo-Gödelian turn” in Piaget’s research program. The resulting framework is then sketched in outline: the updated formal meta-theory that made possible “Piaget’s new theory.”

Theory & Psychology: “Prestige technology in the evolution and social organization of early psychological science,” by Jordan Richard Schoenherr. The abstract reads,

Instruments have become a central feature of psychological science. Their introduction into a research paradigm is typically framed in terms of their practical utility in offering calibration and precision in the presentation, representation, and recording of phenomena. However, a review of early experimental psychology reveals that instruments have an additional role in terms of the accumulation of domain-specific status, or prestige. The emergence and use of prestige technologies reflects a general feature of social organization wherein group members must compete for the attention of a community. An examination of the introduction of the chronoscope demonstrates that while there was an awareness of its functional limitations, these limits were often not prominent features of later paradigmatic discourse. In contrast to early adopters, later researchers appear to have demonstrated a reduced concern for these limitations suggesting that these instruments were being used as much for their prestige function as their practical utility.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.