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Title: The rationality of psychology
Author: McPhilemy, S.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1977
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A basic theme of this thesis is that different approaches to psychology are legitimated by different philosophies of science or wider philosophical perspectives. Several influential contemporary arguments about whether and how a scientific psychology ought to be pursued are first introduced. Next the attempt to reconstruct the recent history of the discipline in line with T.S. Kahn's theory of science is critically discussed as is that theory itself. This leads to a case study of the influence of Logical Positivism on Behaviourism, illustrating the historical importance of philosophy of science for psychology. The case study also provides the background for the examination of Karl Popper's philosophy of science and its associated methodology. Historical objections to Popper's epistemology are then discussed in some detail, with special attention paid to Lore Lakatos's Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Popper's views are defended against these objections but substantially modified in response to normative criticisms by Nicholas Maxwell. The different approaches to psychology, already discussed, are then evaluated in the light of this modified Popperian philosophy of science. The mentalist programme, as articulated by Noam Chomsky, is given a qualified endorsement but the claim that it vindicates rationalist epistemology is rejected. Finally, in a more speculative vein, Popper's metaphysical theory of Worlds 1, 2 and 3 is examined in the light of various criticisms and an interactionist alternative to mentalism is given favourable consideration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available