Philosophy of Psychology - PHI00058M

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Louise Richardson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

The aim of the module is to explore the impact of scientific theorising about the mind on our everyday understanding of ourselves.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

The aim of the module is to explore the impact of scientific theorising about the mind on our everyday understanding of ourselves. Specifically, we will do this via reading, discussing and writing about:

  • Views of the nature of Folk Psychology
  • Views of the architecture of the mind that have been thought to have an impact on Folk Psychology
  • Specific phenomena or experiments that have been thought to show that some aspect of what we usually think about ourselves is mistaken

Module learning outcomes

  • To understand and be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a range of views about the relationship between Scientific Psychology and Folk Psychology
  • To be able to read and critically evaluate cutting edge research in the Philosophy of Psychology
  • To work autonomously on a piece of work that goes beyond the framework provided in lectures and seminars, and which synthesises information from a variety of different sources

Module content

Psychology is concerned with things—for example, memory, perception, belief—that we already have an everyday understanding of. Call this everyday understanding ‘Folk Psychology’. The focus of this module will be the relationship between Scientific Psychology and Folk Psychology. We will consider:

(i) Ways to understand Folk Psychology and its relationship to Scientific Psychology. In particular we will assess the prospects for Eliminativism, the view that Folk Psychology is false theory that commits to the existence of entities such as beliefs and desires that Scientific Psychology will have no use for.

(ii) Some views of the architecture of the mind and how they impact on Folk Psychology, such as Modularity, Nativism and the Language of Thought Hypothesis.

(iii) Some psychological phenomena or experiments that have been thought to show that some specific aspects of our everyday understanding of our ourselves is mistaken. This may include Benjamin Libet’s 1983 experiment, thought to show that our conscious intentions do not cause our actions; Inattentional Blindness and Change Blindness, thought to show that our idea of conscious perceptual experience is a ‘grand illusion’; or the Wason Selection Task, a test of reasoning on which most of us perform very
poorly, suggesting that we are not as rational as we take ourselves to be.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

The formative topic proposal and reading list are due on Monday Week 7 of the Autumn Term.

The formative essay plan is due on Monday Week 10 of the Autumn Term.

The summative assessment is due by 12 noon on Monday Week 2 of the Spring Term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • Verbal feedback on the topic proposal and reading list will be given within two weeks of submission.
  • Verbal feedback will be given on the essay plan within one week of submission.
  • Students will receive written feedback on their summative work within four weeks of submission.

Students will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's regular feedback and advice hours.

Indicative reading

Indicative readings:

Botterill, G. & Carruthers, C. 1999. The Philosophy of Psychology. CUP.

Bermudez, J. (ed.), 2006. Philosophy of Psychology: Contemporary Readings. Routledge



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.