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Psychology and the Question of Agency
Psychology and the Question of Agency
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Jack Martin - Author
Jeff Sugarman - Author
Janice Thompson - Author
SUNY series, Alternatives in Psychology
Price: $57.50 
Hardcover - 196 pages
Release Date: May 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5725-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5725-2

Quantity:  
Price: $26.95 
Paperback - 196 pages
Release Date: May 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5726-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5726-9

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Looks at the limits of free will in human action.

Disciplinary psychology has failed to achieve a coherent conception of human agency. Instead, it oscillates between two differing conceptions of agency that are equally untenable: a scientistic, reductive approach to choice and action, and an instrumental approach that celebrates a romantic notion of free will. This book examines theoretical, philosophical psychology and argues for a historically and socioculturally situated human capacity for choosing and acting in ways not entirely determined by culture and/or biology. The authors present a detailed developmental theory of how agentic capability emerges from the pre-reflective activity of humans in a real physical and social world. Implications of the theory are considered for psychological research and practice, and for the broader socio-political impact of disciplinary psychology in Western liberal democracies.

"Written with grace, cogency, and clarity, this book brings together a wide range of sources that are not generally accessible to psychologists. The authors' ability to synthesize these works and develop a well-articulated theory of agency is an extremely valuable contribution to the field." — Blaine J. Fowers, coauthor of Re-envisioning Psychology: Moral Dimensions of Theory and Practice

Jack Martin is the Burnaby Mountain Endowed Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University. He is the coeditor (with Lisa Tsoi Hoshmand) of Research as Praxis: Lessons From Programmatic Research in Therapeutic Psychology, and the author of several books including (with Jeff Sugarman) The Psychology of Human Possibility and Constraint, published by SUNY Press. Jeff Sugarman is Assistant Professor of Education and Janice Thompson is Associate Dean of Education at Simon Fraser University.


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Table of Contents

Preface

1. PSYCHOLOGY AND THE QUESTION OF AGENCY

Some Relevant Background for What Follows

Psychology's Disavowal of Agency

The Basic Error
Method over Substance

Aspirations

2. REDUCTIONISM IN PSYCHOLOGY

A Historical Sketch

Identity versus Requirement
Omissions
Summary and Implications

Research Practices and the Construction of Pseudo-Psychological Kinds

Causal Woes
Variability and Its Statistical Treatment
Manufacturing and Generalizing Psychological Entities

The Role of Professional Psychology

The Example of Self-Concept

Another Kind of Reductionism in Psychology

An Antidote in Brief

3. BETWEEN HARD DETERMINISM AND RADICAL FREEDOM

Definitions and Distinctions

A Critical Consideration of Some Notable Attempts at Soft Determinism

Philosophical Considerations
Psychological Considerations

Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory
Theory of Mind and Intentional Self-Development
Theoretical Psychology of Agency

Hermeneutics and Agency

4. THE UNDERDETERMINATION AND IRREDUCIBILITYOF AGENCY

An Argument for the Underdetermination of Agency

Structure of the Argument
Against Full Physical-Biological
Determinism
Against Full Sociocultural Determinism
Against Randomness and Unconscious Processes Alone
Agency as the Surviving, Plausible Option

Contemporary Programs of Reductionism and the Irreducibility of Agency

Central State Materialism
Supervenience and Functionalism
Computational Models of Mind
What Is Missing in Reductive Functionalism and Computationalism?

Summary and Links

5. A THEORY OF SITUATED, EMERGENT, AND DELIBERATIVE AGENCY

Levels of Reality

Being-in-the-World
Tiered Reality

An Existential Starting Point and a Brief Conception of Personhood

The Developmental Emergence of Situated, Deliberative Agency and Psychological Kinds

Understanding and Care within Traditions of Living

Summarizing Our Theory of Agency and Psychological Kinds

Implications for Understanding Psychological Phenomena

A Final Word

6. PUTTING AGENCY INTO PSYCHOLOGY

Re-envisioning Psychological Research: Reinforcement Theory and Beyond

Reinforcement Theory Revisited
Beyond Reinforcement Theory

Re-envisioning Psychological Practice

The Nature of Psychotherapy
The Practice of Psychotherapy
The Education of Psychotherapists

The Sociopolitical Consequences of Situated, Emergent, and Deliberative Agency

Liberalism and Communitarianism
The Political Disposition of a Situated, Emergent, and Deliberative Agency

A Concluding Comment

References

Index



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