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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A philosophical analysis of scientific meanings of aging in psychosocial gerontology Kenyon, Gary M.


This dissertation is concerned with the problem of scientific assumptions as it relates to research in gerontology. There are three major areas emphasized in the thesis. First, there is a consideration of the epistemological conditions that give rise to the problem of assumptions and meanings in science. Secondly, a number of different ways of addressing this issue are discussed and an alternative Hermeneutic approach is explicated. This approach constitutes a particular kind of philosophical analysis and is suggested by the insights of Hans Gadamer. Finally, on the basis of the Hermeneutic approach, two major characterizations of research on adult and gerontological intellectual and social competence are identified, namely, a restricted and an expanded picture. In addition, these two characterizations are further clarified by means of a discussion of the contrasting ontological orientations that are presupposed in the restricted and correspondingly, in the expanded picture. The overall purpose of the thesis is to show that a particular kind of philosophical inquiry assists in the integration of disparate forms of research in psychosocial gerontology. In addition, this procedure provides conceptual support for a different understanding of various phenomena associated with human aging that is emerging in the field, namely, the expanded picture.

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