Paul Feyerabend
Chapter 1

Psychology, Science, and History:

Study Questions

I. Introduction

  1. Which three subfields of philosophy provide the conceptual foundations of psychology?
  2. Which of the sciences (and which two of its subfields) inspired the creation of an independent science of psychology?

II. Understanding Science

A. The Image of Modern Science

1. The Newtonian Style
  1. The modern style of scientific explanation began with whom?
  2. Summarize Newton's views about science.

2. Positivism
  1. Who was the key figure in codifying Newton's approach to science, and what was this approach called?
  2. According to positivism, what are the three functions of science?

B. Explanation

1. The Nomological Approach
  1. How were Hempel and Oppenheim's views different from traditional positivism?
  2. According to Hempel and Oppenheim, what does it mean to explain something scientifically?
  3. Which three features of the Hempel-Oppenheim model does Leahey discuss in depth?
  4. Summarize the "Iron Law of Explanation."
  5. What is the relationship between prediction and explanation in the Hempel-Oppenheim model?
  6. How has this view been criticized?
  7. According to this view, what are scientific laws, and how are they related to events in nature?

2. The Causal Approach
  1. Which feature of the Hempel-Oppenheim model was most bothersome from the causal perspective? Summarize their reasoning.
  2. How did the causalists respond to the claim that explanations require invoking laws of nature?
  3. How did the causalists respond to the logical positivists' anxiety about dabbling in metaphysics?
  4. Summarize the weaknesses of the causal view.

3. Pragmatic Considerations
  1. Explain the pragmatic perspective on scientific explanation.

C. Theories: How Scientists Explain Things

1. Realism: Are Scientific Theories True or Merely Useful?
  1. How do the nomological and causal approaches differ regarding what science can achieve?
  2. How did the logical positivists think about invisible "things" such as atoms?
  3. Explain the most common form of antirealism -- instrumentalism.
  4. What are the three broad approaches to theories that Leahey discusses?

2. Theories about Scientific Theories

a. The Syntactic Approach: Theories are Collections of Sentences
  1. In general terms, how do positivism and logical positivism differ in their views of scientific explanation?
  2. "Logical positivists divided the language of science into three sets of terms." Name and define each.
  3. Name and describe the three types of sentences that are formed by combining the three types of terms.
  4. How are these three types of sentences related to each other in scientific theories?
  5. Summarize the weaknesses of the Received View on Theories.

b. The Semantic Approach: Theories are Simplified Models of the World
  1. What are scientific theories, according to the semantic approach?
  2. Explain Leahey's statement that, according to the semantic approach, "a scientific theory is not about the real world as we experience it."
  3. How do these models give science power?
  4. What is an "ideal of natural order?"
  5. Explain Leahey's statement that, according to the semantic approach, "scientific explanation is always indirect and metaphorical."

D. The Nature of Scientific Change

1. Rationality: Why and When do Scientists Change Their Theories?
  1. What does it mean that rationality is a normative concept?
  2. Why is the question of whether science is rational considered so important?
  3. "The positivists' picture of science was content-free." What does this mean?
  4. What is a "naturalistic approach" to science?

2. Naturalistic Approaches

a. Kuhn and Paradigms
  1. Explain Kuhn's description of how science changes, including the notions of "normal science," "paradigm," and "scientific revolution."
  2. What is the current status of Kuhn's model of change in science?

b. Evolutionary Epistemology
  1. Explain the evolutionary account of change in science.

c. Themata
  1. Why does Leahey say that Kuhn's and the evolutionists' accounts may not be naturalistic enough?
  2. Leahey says that "in Holton's scheme, there is no constant underlying scientific process." What does that mean?
  3. What are "themata" and how are they involved in scientific change, according to Holton?

3. A Methodological Approach: Falsificationism
  1. What does it mean that Popper dealt with the question of how science changes from a normative rather than historical point of view?
  2. According to Popper, what is the difference between science and pseudo-science?
  3. According to Popper, what is the difference between the confirmability and the falsifiability of a theory?
  4. Which two weaknesses of Popper's approach does Leahey discuss?
  5. Summarize the results of Popper's followers' responses to these criticisms.

4. Reduction and Replacement
  1. When two theories disagree over how to explain something, there are two possible outcomes -- reduction and replacement. Explain them.
  2. Why does Leahey say that "the question of reduction or replacement is especially important in psychology?"

5. Psychology of Science
  1. How has psychology contributed to the study of science?
  2. Why is the psychology of science a naturalistic approach to the study of science?
  3. How has the psychology of science approach been criticized?

E. Science as a Worldview

1. Particular and Universal Knowledge
  1. What is the difference between particular and universal knowledge, and in which is science interested?
  2. How does science differ from other fields that seek universal knowledge, such as mathematics, philosophy, and religion?

2. Science as the View from Nowhere
  1. What is meant by science as the view from nowhere?
  2. How has the view from nowhere been useful for science?

III. Psychology and Science

A. Psychology without Science
  1. How can Leahey say that psychology has flourished without science?
  2. What is dualism and why is it incompatible with science?
  3. Leahey says "science is…committed to one central dogma." What is it?
  4. What is folk psychology and why is it incompatible with science?

B. Can Psychology Be a Science?

1. Does it Matter? The Dr. Peter Wenkman Rule
  1. Does it matter whether or not psychology is considered to be a science? Why?

2. Arguments from Imperfection
  1. Describe some of psychology's "imperfections" that threaten its status as a science.

3. Arguments from Impossibility

a. You Can't Eliminate the Mind: The Failure of Behaviorism
  1. How did the desire for psychology to be a science lead to behaviorism?
  2. Leahey explains behaviorism's failure by saying "psychology cannot be limited only to publicly observable behavior." Why not?

b. You Can't Eliminate Points of View: The Failure of the View from Nowhere
  1. According to Leahey, how does scientific psychology fail when it takes the "view from nowhere?"

c. You Can't Eliminate Culture: Failure of Psychology as a Natural Science

i. Constitutive Rules: Cultures as Games
  1. Explain the difference between regulative and constitutive rules and what this implies for psychology as a natural science.

ii. The Moral Dimension of Psychology
  1. Science is concerned with fact, not value. And yet, Leahey says, "the explanation of human behavior--psychology--cannot be easily stripped of moral concerns." Summarize Leahey's points about how this militates against psychology's being a science.

C. Alternative Models for Psychology

1. Psychology as Engineering
  1. "Engineering, while resembling science in being rigorous, mathematical, and based upon research, is nevertheless different from science in important ways...." What are they?

a. Scientific Psychology as Engineering: Mind as Evolved Functions
  1. How would a definition of mind as a function differ from a definition of mind as a thing?
  2. How is the engineering perspective better able than the natural science perspective to accommodate the normative aspect of psychology?
  3. What does Leahey mean by "evolution and engineering are the same?"

b. Applied Psychology as Engineering: Expertise as Knowing What Works
  1. "The engineering perspective also provides a different way of defining the expertise of the applied psychologist." Explain.

2. Psychology as a Humanity
  1. Explain the difference between Naturwissenschaft and Geisteswissenschaft, and how the latter might characterize psychology more aptly than the former.
  2. How was this distinction eliminated in the English-speaking world by the positivist doctrine of the unity of science?

D. The Scientific Challenges to Psychology
  1. Explain the challenges to psychology of naturalism, realism, autonomy, and explanation.
  2. "For at least a hundred years, psychology has claimed to be a science. There are three main reasons for this claim." What are they?

IV. Psychology and History

A. History of Science
  1. Explain what Leahey calls "the most general problem in writing history, especially scientific history...."
  2. "Traditionally, history of science has tended to overestimate reasons, producing Whig history and presentism. Explain.
  3. Explain the difference between internalism and externalism in history of science.
  4. Explain the difference between the Great Man view of history and the zeitgeist view.

B. Psychology in History

1. Was Mind Discovered, Invented, or Constructed?
  1. Compare and contrast the three different views of the mind -- that it was discovered, invented, or constructed -- and explain their implications for psychology.

2. Mind in Religion
  1. What are the two reasons why "psychologists have underestimated the influence of religious ideas of the soul...on conceptions of mind and self?"
  2. "Although there are differences in detail, religions around the world have a remarkably concordant picture of the mind, positing the existence of two immaterial sould for two distinct reasons." What are those reasons?

3. Options for Psychology
  1. Leahey's "brief survey of ideas about mind creates several possibilities for psychology as a science." What are they?

a. Is "Mind" a Natural Kind?
  1. Leahey quotes David Gaffan: "The idea that mental activity is brain activity has retarded research in neuroscience." What does Gaffan mean by this?
  2. "Accepting that Gaffan is right, there are several important conclusions we may draw from his argument." What are they?

b. Do Minds Exist?
  1. "From the fact that folk psychology is a social construction--a sort of game--it does not follow that particular minds do not exist." Explain.

c. Does Mind Exist?

i. Mind as Natural Construction
  1. What does it mean to suggest that mind is a natural construction, and what does this view mean for psychology?

ii. Mind as Social Construction
  1. What does it mean to suggest that mind is a social construction, and what does this view mean for psychology?

C. Historiography of Psychology
  1. "The historiography of science...has passed through two stages." Describe them.
  2. How is the new history of psychology different from the old history of psychology?

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