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Ferguson, M. (1981). Progress and Theory Change: The Two Analyses of Mr. Z. Ann. Psychoanal., 9:133-160.

(1981). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 9:133-160

Progress and Theory Change: The Two Analyses of Mr. Z

Michael Ferguson

Although this essay focuses principally on a problem that is not directly related to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, it is hoped it will be of interest to many analysts. Insofar as psychoanalysis posits itself as a science, it should be of interest to analysts how psychoanalysis compares to and is distinguished from other sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, etc., as to method, objectivity, verification, and progress. Philosophers of science have in recent years debated and discussed these issues in some detail. Various models of science and scientific progress have been proposed; however, without exception these models of science have been created against a background of physics as the paradigm science. Most of the examples used by philosophers of science to illustrate their arguments come from physics, and most of the leading philosophers of science in this century were originally physics trained before moving to philosophy of science. The writer believes that it can be instructive both to psychoanalysts and to philosophers of science to examine psychoanalysis in the light of the various philosophical models of science, notably those of Laudan and Kuhn, to see how much psychoanalysis shares with other scientific disciplines and how adequate are the philosophies of science in conceptualizing a science of human psychology and human life.


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