Philosophy 496, Philosophy 497, Psychology 475H
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Email: craig.delancey@oswego.edu



Current Assignments
October 17
Read up to the end of chapter 2 in Obedience to Authority. The reading is posted on BlackBoard and was also mailed to you. Answer the questions on Blackboard.
Tentative Assignments
October 22
Read chapters 3 and 4 of Obedience to Authority.
October 24
Read chapter 6 of Are we Smart Enough...?

Answer the questions on Blackboard.
October 24
Midterm. Here are the preliminary study questions:
  • Among the scholars we have read, which is a dualist? What is dualism? Which is a reductivist? What is reductivism?
  • What is James's theory of emotion? What kind of arguments does he use to defend it?
  • What is Freud's theory of dreams? What are some challenges for Frued's theory of dreams?
  • B. F. Skinner thought we could improve society very greatly using conditioning. He wrote a utopian novel depicting a much better society based on positive operant condition. How would Freud critique such a utopian vision? Cite appropriate passages of Civilization and its Discontents.
  • What are some of the challenges from ethology to Skinner's behaviorism? How does ethology offer some reasons to reject strong forms of behaviorism.
  • How does the Shephard & Metzler paper challenge behaviorism?
  • Consider the problem of Clever Hans. Take a phenomenon like a parrot that reportedly can act on English commands to select objects of a shape and size described. How might this be a Clever Hans issue? Describe a hypothetical case where it could be one. How could we create an experiment so that we are sure this ability is not a Clever Hans case?
  • Consider the Savage Rumbaugh experiment with the grapes in the cup. Could you give a behaviorist account of the observed result? If the result is observed after no training on this particular case, can you still give a behaviorist explanation? Or do we need to add some other kind of explanation?
  • Describe the Milgram Experiment. What is operationalized here? Did the various versions of the experiment address the appropriate criticisms? Give an example of a challenge and of an experiment that addressed it.
Thinking about turnpapers, which will be due in December: if you have a special interest, let me know and we can discuss it. But here are some suggested topics.
  • Pick an animal and a cognitive skill that humans have. For example, tool use, language, or planning for the future, logical reasoning. Then, review some of the literature and tell us whether you think we can reasonably argue that the organism has that kind of capability. How do we best identify that the capability is present? What evidence tells us the organism has it? Consider the objections of a behaviorist. Consider the Clever Hans problem. (You could also do this for some mental event kind (fear), though that may be to easy.)
  • Consider an emotion, like fear. What kind of theory of emotion does the behaviorist, the cognitivist, and the evolutionary psychologist offer? How should decide between them? Are some of those theories consistent with other theories?
  • Do we still need introspection in psychology? Why or why not? And for what kinds of data do we need it? And how has use of introspection changed, if at all? Consider several examples.
  • Given one of the classic cognitivist papers, such as one describing the Stroop effect. Explain how that hypothesis requires that we emend behaviorism. Specifically, what elements of behaviorism are retained, and what altered, in contemporary experimental psychology (such as cognitive psychology)?
  • Explain and evaluate the concern raised about Kahane that we have a reproducibility crisis in social psychology.
  • Review a claim made in evolutionary psychology. What is being assumed (about inheritance, about the target of selection, etc.)? Does the argument plausibly show that the behavior is an evolutionary stable strategy? What are some concerns that we might have about this kind of explanation?
  • Is there a concensus about the method of psychology? How do the various subdisciplines of psychology work together or relate to each other? Give examples. If not, then is this because psychology is new, or because the mind is special (that is, explaining the mind requires special methods because it is a different kind of thing)?

For the rest of the semester, our themes will be:
1. We will continue our survey of branches of psychology, to ask about their method:
  • The Milgram experiment. Social psychology and social animals.
  • The reproducible results crisis in social psychology.
  • Language and psychology.
  • A brief discussion of neural science and psychology.
  • Evolutionary psychology.
2. We will take a few weeks to turn to some pure philosophy, after completing our philosophy-of-psychology review. The questions we can consider are:
  • Are there any ethical implications to evolutionary psychology?
  • Are there mental phenomena beyond psychology? The problem of consciousness.
  • Does psychology and ethology help us answer questions in environmental ethics?