Psychology 815-1: Advanced Studies in Systems and Theories

Spring 2010/ Brackett Hall 122/TTH 9:30-10:45 AM



Course Description:

Psychology only began to assert itself as a separate discipline around 1860. Since religious and philosophical inquiry into the human mind are over 2500 years old, psychology has been a distinct science for well under 10% of that span. Moreover, psychology was professionalized as soon as it arose (the first academic psychologists arrived shortly after the first modern Ph.D. programs), and it came up after the natural sciences were well established. Consequently psychologists have been unusually sensitive to questions about what it means to do good science, and the field has gone through a number of upheavals in which basic assumptions about science were questioned, revised, or rejected.

In this course, we will begin with an overview of developments during the last century in philosophy of science, with an eye to how these might affect research and theorizing in psychology. We will then examine two major historical developments in psychology. The first is the rise and subsequent decline of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic framework. We will be especially interested in what Freud thought was good science in 1895, and how subsequent developments have eventually led both admirers and detractors of psychoanalysis to doubt whether it was science at all. The second case study will focus on the decline of behaviorism and its replacement (in American academic psychology) by cognitive psychology and cognitive science. The key developments took place in the 1950s, though we are still feeling some of the aftereffects of these changes today. Again, views about science played a significant role in the "cognitive revolution" and its aftermath.

Though I will be doing some lecturing where it is needed to provide historical or philosophical background, this course is basically a seminar. While doing the readings, you should ask yourself how differing views about science relate to disagreements in the present-day psychology that you have studied and the research efforts that you are personally involved in.



Books:

Tests:

There will be two tests, and two papers. The tests will consist entirely of essay questions and will be given on a take-home basis. Tests distributed at the end of the class meeting on Thursday will be due back at 3pm on Monday.
Your two papers will cover some issue, controversy, or important theorist or researcher in the history of psychology. You should be prepared to lead a discussion of the issues covered in each paper.

Your grade will be based on this formula:

Item % of
Final Grade
PAPER 1 25%
TEST 1 25%
Paper 2 25%
TEST 2 25%

Our Schedule

Date Topic Reading
Thursday January 7 Intro to Philosophy
of Science
-
Tuesday-Thursday January 12-14 Positivism Bechtel, Ch. 1-2
[Jan. 12 is Last Day to Add a Class]
Tuesday-Thursday January 19-21 Logical Positivism Bechtel, Ch. 3
[Jan. 20 is Last day to Drop without a W]
Tuesday-Thursday January 26-28 Operationism S. S. Stevens articles
Tuesday-Thursday February 2-4 Worldview Philosophy
of Science
Bechtel, Ch. 4-5
Tuesday-Thursday February 9-11 Worldview Philosophy of Science
Paper 1 due on Tuesday
-
Tuesday-Thursday February 16-18 Worldview Philosophy
of Science
-
Tuesday-Thursday February 23-25 Background to Freud Kitcher, Ch. 1-2
TEST 1 distributed on Thursday
[Feb. 26 is Last day to withdraw without final grade]
Tuesday-Thursday March 6-8 Freudian Metapsychology Kitcher, Ch. 3
Tuesday-Thursday March 13-15 Freud's Conception of Mental Life Kitcher, Ch. 4-5
March 15-19 SPRING BREAK -
Tuesday-Thursday March 23-25 "The Consilience that Failed" Kitcher, Ch. 6-7
Tuesday-Thurday March 30-April 1 The Rise of Behaviorism
and Defenders of Behaviorism
Baars, Ch. 1-3
Paper 2 due on Tuesday
Tuesday-Thursday April 6-8 The Cognitive Revolution Baars, Ch. 4-5
Tuesday-Thursday April 13-15 The Adapters and the Persuaders Baars, Ch. 6
Tuesday-Thursday April 20-22 Key Influences from outside Psychology Baars, Ch. 7-8
TEST 2 distributed on Thursday