Philosophy of science and the formalization of psychological theory

Markus I. Eronen*, Jan-Willem Romeijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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One of the original aims of this journal was to promote theory in psychology. Nowadays more and more psychological researchers are calling for more theory development, and articles on the "theory crisis" have also found their way into mainstream journals. In this article, we provide a further perspective to this theory debate. Over the past century, philosophy of science has staged extensive discussions on the mathematization of nature and on the role of mathematics in the development of theory and the connection of theory to empirical facts. We show that these discussions are highly relevant for the current debate in psychology. In particular, we emphasize the importance of conceptual work in the process of mathematization, and the role of mathematics in co-ordinating theory and observations. We then discuss the implications that these points have for statistically oriented psychology in general and for the recent theory debate in psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-799
Number of pages14
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • epistemic iteration
  • formalization
  • instrumentalism
  • statistics
  • theory

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