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Unit information: Philosophy of Psychology in 2018/19

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Unit name Philosophy of Psychology
Unit code PHIL30077
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jason Konek
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Philosophy of psychology has three strands.

The first strand uses the results from psychology and cognitive science to shed light on traditional philosophical problems: for example looking at experimental investigation of our powers of introspection to illuminate the philosophical discussion of self-knowledge.

The second strand is the philosophy of science where the science in question is psychology: for example asking whether evolutionary psychology meets the standards of good science.

Third is doing cognitive science, but at a high level of generality: for example asking about the structure of the mind—whether it is modular or homogeneous.

Over the series of lectures and seminars, we look at a variety of topics that fall into one or more of these strands: nativism; modularity; folk psychology; emotions; animal cognition; the extended mind; rationality; moral psychology and delusions.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit, students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate a clear and sophisticated grasp of the science of psychology and its methodological and epistemological footing;

(2) deploy findings from psychological studies to shed new light on traditional philosophical debates about the mind

(3) assess critically the philosophical implications of the major theories and hypotheses about the structure and nature of the mind offered by experimental psychology

(4) form their own views and provide argumentative justification for their positions, of a standard appropriate to level H/6.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour lecture and 1 x 1-hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

All assessment for this unit is summative

  1. 10 minute Presentation (15%) (ILOs 1-4)
  2. 4,500 word essay (85%) (ILOs 1-4)

Reading and References

  • Cummins, D. (1995) The Other Side of Psychology. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Huber, R. J., et al (2000) Cornerstones of Psychology: Readings in the History of Psychology. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.