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Wittegenstein's rule-following paradox : how to resolve it with lessons for psychology.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2009
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Journal number2
Volume27
Number of pages15
Pages228-242
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Four assumptions about rule-learning in mathematics continue to be central to psychology—mathematical rules are clear and exact, their applications are well defined, their learning is typically through social experiences, whose mechanisms are causal. All four are contradicted in Wittgenstein's analysis of the rule-following paradox (RFP) one of whose essential features is the normativity of mathematical rules. Although RFP is alive well in 21st century philosophy, it has received scant attention in psychology. My argument is in four parts—a brief review of rule-learning in psychology under the four assumptions; a substantial review of RFP in which they are invalidated; a confirming re-analysis in Piaget's developmental epistemology (DE) with its research-program for an empirically based interpretation of normativity; and four implications for psychology about the limits of causal models, constructivism and rules, rules and networks, novelty as inherent in mental functioning throughout human development.