The Ontology of Intelligence

  • James R. Flynn
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 5)


The purpose of this paper is to clarify the existential or ontological status of intelligence and this means an analysis of both the primitive concept of intelligence found in everyday life and scientific constructs. Scientific constructs can be understood only in the context of the theories that have generated them and I have chosen to concentrate on the Spearman—Jensen theory of intelligence and the psychometric construct called g or general intelligence. The first half of the paper will argue that psychometric g has shown considerable promise as a scientific construct; the second half will show that its successes have been accompanied by significant failures and argue that the Spearman—Jensen theory must be revised and transcended.


Academic Achievement Cultural Distance Mental Ability Mental Test Primitive Concept 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bane, M. J., and Jencks, C.: 1977, ‘Five Myths About Your IQ’, in N. J. Block and G. Dworkin (eds.), The IQ Controversy: Critical Readings, Quartet Books, London, pp. 325–338.Google Scholar
  2. Block, N. J., and Dworkin, G.: 1977, ‘IQ, Heritability, and Inequality’, in N. J. Block and G Dworkin (eds.), The IQ Controversy: Critical Readings, Quartet Books, London, pp. 410–540.Google Scholar
  3. Bouvier, U.: 1969, Evolution des Cotes à Quelques Tests (Evolution of Scores from Several Tests), Belgian Armed Forces, Center for Research into Human Traits, Brussels.Google Scholar
  4. Brody, N. and Brody, E. P.: 1980, ‘Differential Construct Validity’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 335–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cattell, R. B.: 1963, ‘Theory of Fluid and Crystalized Intelligence: A Critical Experiment’, Journal of Educational Psychology 54, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crano, W. D.: 1974, ‘Cognitive Analyses of the Effects of Socioeconomic Status and Initial Intellectual Endowment on Patterns of Cognitive Development and Academic Achievement’, in D. R. Green (ed.), The Aptitude-Achievement Distinction, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 223–253.Google Scholar
  7. Crano, W. D., Kenny, D. A., and Campbell, D. T.: 1972, ‘Does Intelligence Cause Achievement? A Cross-Legged Panel Analysis’, Journal of Educational Psychology 63, 258–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Economos, J.: 1980, ‘Bias Cuts Deeper Than Scores’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 342–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Elley, W. B.: 1969, ‘Changes in Mental Ability in New Zealand Schoolchildren’, New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies 4, 140–155.Google Scholar
  10. Eysenck, H. J.: 1985, ‘The Nature of Cognitive Differences Between Blacks and Whites’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, 229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eysenck, H. J., and Barnett, P.: 1985, ‘Psychophysiology and Measurement of Intelligence’, in C. R. Reynolds and V. Wilson (eds.), Methodological and Statistical Advances in the Study of Individual Differences, Plenum, New York, pp. 1–49.Google Scholar
  12. Flynn, J. R.: 1980, Race, IQ, and Jensen, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  13. Flynn, J. R.: 1984, ‘The Mean IQ of Americans: Massive Gains 1932 to 1978’, Psychological Bulletin 95, 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flynn, J. R.: 1985, ‘Wechsler Intelligence Tests: Do We Really Have a Criterion of Mental Retardation?’, American Journal of Mental Deficiency 90, 236–244.Google Scholar
  15. Flynn, J. R.: 1987a, ‘Flynn Replies to Nichols’, in S. Modgil and C. Modgil (eds.), Arthur Jensen: Consensus and Controversy, Falmer Press, Lewes, Sussex, pp. 234–235.Google Scholar
  16. Flynn, J. R.: 1987b, ‘Massive IQ Gains in 14 Nations: What IQ Tests Really Measure’, Psychological Bulletin 101, pp. 171–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flynn, J. R.: 1987c, ‘Race and IQ: Jensen’s Case Refuted’, in S. Modgil and C. Modgil (eds.), Arthur Jensen: Consensus and Controversy, Falmer Press, Lewes, Sussex, pp. 221–232.Google Scholar
  18. Gibson, J. B.: 1970, ‘Biological Aspects of a High Socio-Economic Group: I. IQ, Education and Social Mobility’, Journal of Biosocial Science 2, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Girod, M., and Allaume, G.: 1976, ‘L’Évolution du Niveau Intellectuel de la Population Française pendant le Dernier Quart de Siècle’ (The Evolution of the Intellectual Level of the French Population during the Last Quarter Century), International Review of Applied Psychology 25,121–123.Google Scholar
  20. Gould, S. J.: 1981, The Mismeasure of Man, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Green, D. R. (ed.): 1974, The Aptitude-Achievement Distinction, McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Harlow, H. F., and Harlow, M. K.: 1962, ‘The Mind of Man’, in Year-Book of Science and Technology, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 31–39.Google Scholar
  23. Jensen, A. R.: 1972, Genetics and Education, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  24. Jensen, A. R.: 1973a, Educability and Group Differences, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  25. Jensen, A. R.: 1973b, Educational Differences, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  26. Jensen, A. R.: 1979, ‘The Nature of Intelligence and Its Relation to Learning’, Journal of Research and Development in Education 12, 79–95.Google Scholar
  27. Jensen, A. R.: 1980a, Bias in Mental Testing, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  28. Jensen, A. R.: 1980b, ‘Author’s Response: Bias in Mental Testing’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 359–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jensen, A. R.: 1981, Straight Talk About Mental Tests, The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Jensen, A. R.: 1982, ‘The Debunking of Scientific Fossils and Straw Persons’, Contemporary Education Review 1, 121–135.Google Scholar
  31. Jensen, A. R.: 1985, ‘The Nature of the Black-White Difference on Various Psychometric Tests: Spearman’s Hypothesis’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, 193–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jensen, A. R.: Undated (but circa 1985), ‘The g Beyond Factor Analysis’, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of A. R. Jensen, University of California, Berkeley, California.Google Scholar
  33. Jensen, A. R.: 1987, ‘Differential Psychology: Towards Consensus’, in S. Modgil and C. Modgil (eds.), Arthur Jensen: Consensus and Controversy, Falmer Press, Lewes, Sussex, pp. 353–399.Google Scholar
  34. Keynes, J. M.: 1936, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  35. Leeuw, J. de, & Meester, A. C.: 1984, ‘Over het Intelligente-Onderzoek bij de Militaire Keuringen vanaf 1925 tot Heden’ (Intelligence — as Tested at Selections for the Military Service from 1925 to the Present), Mens en Maatschappij 59, 5–26.Google Scholar
  36. Lewontin, R. C.: 1977, ‘Race and Intelligence’, in N. J. Block and G. Dworkin (eds.), The IQ Controversy: Critical Readings, Quartet Books, London, pp. 78–92.Google Scholar
  37. Lynn, R.: 1982, ‘IQ in Japan and the United States Shows a Growing Disparity’, Nature 297, 222–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lynn, R., & Hampson, S.: 1986, ‘The Rise of National Intelligence: Evidence from Britain, Japan and the U.S.A.’, Personality and Individual Differences 7, 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lynn, R., Hampson, S. L., and Mullineux, J. C.: undated (but circa 1986), ‘The Rise of Fluid Intelligence in Great Britain, 1935–1985’, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of R. Lynn, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.Google Scholar
  40. McClelland, D. C.: 1977, ‘Testing for Competence Rather Than for “Intelligence”’, in N. J. Block and G. Dworkin (eds.), The IQ Controversy: Critical Readings, Quartet Books, London, pp. 45–73.Google Scholar
  41. Mehlhorn, G., and Mehlhorn, H.-G.: 1981, ‘Intelligenz-Tests und Leistung’ (Intelligence- Tests and Achievement), Wissenschaft und Fortschritt 31 (9), 346–351.Google Scholar
  42. Nichols, R. C.: 1987, ‘Racial Differences in Intelligence’, in S. Modgil and C. Modgil (eds.), Arthur Jensen: Consensus and Controversy, Falmer Press, Lewes, Sussex, pp. 213–220.Google Scholar
  43. Rist, T.: 1982, Det Intellektuelle Prestasjonsnivaet I Befolkningen Sett I Lys av den Samfunns-Messige Utviklinga ( The Level of the Intellectual Performance of the Population Seen in the Light of Developments in the Community ), Norwegian Armed Forces Psychology Service, Oslo.Google Scholar
  44. Scafer, E. W. P.: 1985, ‘Neural Adaptibility: A Biological Determinant of g Factor Intelligence’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, 240–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schaliberger, U.: 1985, HAWIK und HAWIK-R: Ein Empirischer Vergleich (HAWIK and HAWIK-R: An Empirical Comparison) (Tech. Rep.), Psychologisches Institut der Universität, Zurich.Google Scholar
  46. Spearman, C.: 1904, ‘ “General Intelligence”: Objectively Determined and Measured’, American Journal of Psychology 15, 201–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sternberg, R. J.: 1985, Beyond IQ: A Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.Google Scholar
  48. Terman, L. M., and Oden, M.: 1959, The Gifted Group at Mid-Life, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.Google Scholar
  49. Thorndike, R. L.: 1973, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale 1972 Norms Tables, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  50. Thurstone, L. L.: 1940, ‘Current Issues in Factor Analysis’, Psychological Bulletin 37, 189–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tuddenham, R. D.: 1948, ‘Soldier Intelligence in World Wars I and II’, American Psychologist 3, 54–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vogel, F.: 1980, ‘Genetic Influences on IQ’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Waller, J. H.: 1971, ‘Achievement and Social Mobility: Relationships Among IQ Score, Education, and Occupation in Two Generations’, Social Biology 18, 252–259.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Flynn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations