Philosophy of Psychology - PHI00102H

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

Module summary

This module will 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 engage with contemporary work in the Philosophy of Psychology
  • To have further developed skills in philosophical discussion and writing

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 are 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

Summative work should be submitted 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

Formative: students will receive written feedback before the end of term

Summative: students will receive marks and written feedback four weeks after the submission date

Students can also get further, verbal feedback on their formative and summative assessments by visiting the tutor's office hour or by appointment

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.