Reclaiming Davidson’s Methodological Rationalism as Galilean Idealization in Psychology

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (1):84-106 (2010)
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In his early experimental work with Suppes, Davidson adopted rationality assumptions, not as necessary constraints on interpretation, but as practical conceits in addressing methodological problems faced by experimenters studying decision making under uncertainty. Although the content of their theory has since been undermined, their methodological approach—a Galilean form of methodological rationalism—lives on in contemporary psychological research. This article draws on Max Weber’s verstehen to articulate an account of Galilean methodological rationalism; explains how anomalies faced by Davidson’s early experimental work gave rise to his later, canonical claims about rationality and interpretation; and reclaims this Galilean framework for use in contemporary psychological research.

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Carole J. Lee
University of Washington


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