At the end of this course, students will:
be able to critically assess debates in the philosophy of psychology
- become familiar with key problems in philosophy of psychology and explore their connection to society and technology
- understand the main philosophical issues in psychological methodology, basic concepts, and knowledge claims in connection to the nature of the mind and the self
The Philosophy study unit will take a closer look at various underlying fundamental issues in psychology, their theoretical underpinnings and their connection to society and technology. Those issues cover psychological methodology (e.g., in diagnosis and treatment), basic psychological concepts (e.g., “the self”), knowledge claims in psychology (e.g., “X is a mental disorder”), and even the very nature of the mind. Questions that will be addressed include: “Does free will exist? Why is the concept of mental disorder epistemically, socially, and politically controversial? What does it mean to speak of cognitive enhancement?”. Our approach to philosophy of psychology is guided by the idea that psychological practices rely implicitly on a particular answer to such fundamental questions, but that it remains often unclear why this particular answer is endorsed (rather than another), and what its consequences are. This study unit aims to connect fundamental questions to concrete issues in psychological practice (in the clinic, organizations, and labs) and the technologies employed therein, such as mental health questionnaires that endorse a particular view on what mental disorders are or the use of nudges to change behavior in “persuasive technologies” that embody a specific understanding of free will. Making such connections explicit will help students to justify certain practices, critically reflect on their shortcomings, and argue for potential alternatives. Students will be asked to do a short group project.
This study unit is part of the module History, Ethics and Philosophy of Psychology (202000368). A module is offered as one educational unity and students take it as such.