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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Wakefield, J.C. Eagle, M. (1997). Psychoanalysis and Wittgenstein: A Reply to Richard Allen. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 20(3):323-351.

(1997). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 20(3):323-351

Psychoanalysis and Wittgenstein: A Reply to Richard Allen Related Papers

Jerome C. Wakefield, D.S.W. and Morris Eagle, Ph.D.

Allen defends Wittgenstein's claim that psychoanalytic motivational theories are based on a conceptual confusion between reasons and causes and are therefore incoherent. According to this view, people's reasons for actions do not cause people to perform the actions but rather redescribe the actions. Allen nonetheless claims that the notion of “unconscious motive” can be reconstructed within this noncausalperspective, so there can be “psychoanalysis after Wittgenstein.”We argue that common sense and psychoanalysis are correct in holding that the reasons why people act are causes of their actions. Relying on Donald Davidson's influential arguments, we show that, although descriptions of reasons may contain redescriptions of actions, reasons are nevertheless separate entities that can cause actions. Allen's view is in effect a form of “logical behaviorism,” the doctrine that talk of unobservable mental states is simply an indirect way of referring to dispositions to observable behavior.

Logical behaviorism has generally been rejected in philosophy, for good reasons: (1) It is based on a confusion between epistemoogy (how we know) and ontology (what exists); (2) it is inconsistent with the reality and causal potency of first-person experiences; and (3) because of the complex interactions between mental states, there is no logical connection of the kind postulated by Allen between mental states and specific behavioral dispositions. We show that Allen's attempt to reconcile psychoanalysis with Wittgensteins views by constructing a noncausal notion of unconscious motivation fails for much the same reasons as logical behaviorism does. We conclude that, whatever psychoanalysis problems, they do not lie in a conceptual confusion between reasons and causes. Psychoanalysis after Wittgenstein can and should remain an attempt to reveal the motives that cause us to act and feel the ways we do.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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