chapter  9
39 Pages

Naturalism and Humanitarian Reform

ByWilliam Douglas Woody, Wayne Viney

Naturalism, as a philosophical perspective, states that scientific procedures and laws apply to all phenomena. Naturalism assumes that all events have a history that is understandable in terms of identifiable forces. The appeal of naturalism in the sciences is based partly on its heuristic value. Rogers illustrates the value of naturalism along with the deceptive appeal of non-natural approaches to the world. The naturalistic approach to mental and emotional problems opened the door to studies on etiology and the effects of various treatment environments. E. H. P. Haeckel argued strongly for a scientific psychology based on physiology and the assumed lawfulness of mental processes and evolution. Numerous intellectual traditions provided a friendly context for the birth of psychology in the late nineteenth century. G. Stevens and H. Gardner claimed that Dorothea Dix represented the conscience of early psychology. They argued that without Dix and other humanitarian reformers, psychology might have been restricted to laboratory investigations or might have stagnated altogether.