The Philosophy of Psychology

The Philosophy of Psychology

The Philosophy of Psychology

The Philosophy of Psychology


This book presents an original and accessible analysis of the relationship between commonsense, or "folk," psychology and contemporary scientific psychology, focusing on the ways in which cognitive science presents a challenge to our commonsense self-image. It is designed as a textbook for upper-level undergraduate and beginning postgraduate students in philosophy and cognitive science, but as a text that not only surveys but advances the debates on the topics discussed, it will also be of interest to researchers working in these areas.


When we initially conceived the project of this book, our first task was to determine what sort of book it should be. the question of intended audience was relatively easy. We thought we should aim our book primarily at upper-level undergraduate students of philosophy and beginninglevel graduate students in the cognitive sciences generally, who would probably have some previous knowledge of issues in the philosophy of mind. But we also hoped, at the same time, that we could make our own contributions to the problems discussed, which might engage the interest of the professionals, and help move the debates forward. Whether or not we have succeeded in this latter aim must be for others to judge.


The question of the content of the book was more difficult. There is a vast range of topics which could be discussed under the heading of 'philosophy of psychology', and a great many different approaches to those topics could be taken. For scientific psychology is itself a very broad church, ranging from various forms of cognitive psychology, through artificial intelligence, social psychology, behavioural psychology, comparative psychology, neuro-psychology, psycho-pathology, and so on. and the philosopher of psychology might then take a variety of different approaches, ranging from one which engages with, and tries to contribute to, psychological debates (compare the way in which philosophers of physics may propose solutions to the hidden-variable problem); through an approach which attempts to tease out philosophical problems as they arise within psychology (compare the famous 'under-labourer' conception of the role of the philosopher of science); to an approach which focuses on problems which are raised for philosophy by the results and methods of psychology.

We have chosen to take a line towards the latter end of this spectrum, concentrating on cognitive psychology in particular. Our main focus is on . . .

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