Phil 149
Philosophy of Psychology
Winter 2007, Tues. Thurs., 2:00-3:20 pm

Professor: William Bechtel Office Hours: Mondays, 10:30-12:15 and by appointment
Office: HSS 8076
Telephone: 822-4461 Webpage:

1. Course Description

How can scientists explain mental activities such as thinking, imagining, and remembering? Are the explanations offered in psychology similar to or different from those found in the natural sciences? How do psychological explanations relate to those of other disciplines, especially those included in cognitive science? The course will focus on major research traditions in psychology, with a special focus on contemporary cognitive psychology. Research on memory will provide a focus for the latter portion of the course.

Given the nature of the class, substantial material will be presented in lectures that goes beyond what is included in the readings. Also, philosophy is an activity, and learning activities requires active engagement. Accordingly, class attendance and discussion is critical. Although we will have discussions on other occasions as well, several classes are designated as discussion classes.

2. Course Requirements

Class attendance is mandatory. Missing classes more than very occasionally will result in a reduction in your grade. To get the most out of the class, it is absolutely essential that every one comes to class prepared to discuss the readings. To ensure that this happens and to foster subsequent discussions in class, you will be required to turn in a very short (one paragraph) comments or questions on reading assigned during each of the quarter, except when there is an exam. You can write about anything in the readings you find interesting, puzzling, strange, clearly wrong, obviously right, etc. These will be graded as acceptable or unacceptable. To ensure that your submission is acceptable, your comment or question must demonstrate that you have done the reading in question and contain fewer than four grammar or spelling errors. These must be submitted as email to by 7 AM on the classes preceded by an asterisk in the schedule below (note, these are all Thursday classes except one on which there is an exam). You must turn in eight acceptable weekly assignments to receive a passing grade for the course.

Your grade in the course will be based on two examinations and one 3-5 page paper. The two examinations and the paper will ach count equally toward your grade. The paper, due by the beginning of class on March 6, must be on one of the topics that will be assigned in class. If possible, the paper should be submitted in Word by email attachment sents to (please be sure to check for viruses before submitting your file!). Participation in class discussions can result in a raising or lowering of your final grade from what is determined by the above percentages on these other assignments.

3. Texts

All assigned readings for the course are available on the internet through links from this syllabus. Those items that are on license to UCSD may only be available if you are on campus or set up a virtual private network (directions on doing so are avaiable through Academic Computing Services.

4. Email List

There is an email distribution lists for this course. It is required that you subscribe to this list. Do it IMMEDIATELY. You can always unsubscribe later if you drop the course. The purpose of the list is to allow me to distribute information regarding due dates for assignments, changes of schedule, etc. Some of this information is crucial, and some of it may be distributed early on. To subscribe, you simply need to send an email message to the following address: After you send the subscribe request, you will receive a reply from that will ask you to confirm your request. Follow the directions in this message to confirm you subscription. If you later want to remove yourself from this list, send email to

Only I have authorization to send mail to this list. There should be no spam. If you receive mail from this list that is not from me, be assured that I will as well and will take measures to block further abuse. (The welcome message you receive suggests that you can send email to the list. Sorry, but you cannot. If there is interest in setting up a voluntary discussion list for the class to which anyone can submit, I am happy to do so, but participation will not make it required.)

5. Schedule of Classes and Readings

Note: This schedule of reading assignments is tentative and subject to revision. Dates with asterisks are dates on which comments/question paragraphs on the reading are due. These comments/questions must be sent to by 7 AM on the dates indicated.

January 9: Psychology as a Science

*January 11: Roots: Aristotle and Descartes

Shields, Christopher (2003). Aristotle’s psychology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Aristotle, De Anima, Book 2 (recommended)
Descartes, Rene (1641) Meditation II.
Robinson, Howard
, Dualism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Parts 1-3

January 16: Characterizing the Conscious Mind: Brentano and James

Huemer, Wolfgang (2006). Brenano. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
James, William (1892). The stream of consciousness. From Psychology (chapter XI). Cleveland & New York , World.
James, William (1879). Are we automata? Mind, 4, 1-22.

*January 18: Discussion

January 23:Roots of Experimental Psychology: Psychophysics and Memory

Ebbinghaus, Hermann. (1913). Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology (Henry A. Ruger & Clara E. Bussenius , Trans.). Originally published in New York by Teachers College, Columbia University . (Original German work Über das Gedächtnis published 1885). Chapters 3 and 8.
Fechner, Gustav Theodor (1860). Elements of psychophysics, Sections VII ("Measurement of sensation") and XVI ("The fundamental formula and the measurement formula") (Trans. by Herbert S. Langfeld, first appearing in B. Rand (Ed.) (1912), The classical psychologists).
Cattell, James McKeen. (1928). Early psychological laboratories. Science, 67, 543- 548.
Hall, G. Stanley
. (1885). The new psychology. Andover Review, 3, 120-135, 239-248. (recommended)

January 25: The Behaviorist Revolution

Pavlov, Ivan P. (1927). Conditioned reflexes: An investigation of the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex (G. V. Anrep, Trans.). Lectures I, II, and III.
Watson, John B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-177.
Watson, John B. & Rayner, Rosalie (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1-14.

*January 30: Discussion

February 1: First Exam

Febuary 6: Behaviorism: Philosophical and Psychological

Skinner, B. F. (1950). Are theories of learning necessary?Psychological Review, 57, 193-216
Tolman, Edward, C. (1948). Cognitive maps in rats and men. Psychological Review, 55(4), 189-208.
Jastrow, Joseph. (1935). Has psychology failed? American Scholar, 4, 261-269.
Graham, George (2005). Behaviorism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

*February 8: The Cognitive Revolution in Psychology

Bruner, Jerome S. & Goodman, Cecile C. (1947). Value and need as organizing factors in perception. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 42, 33-44.
Bruner, Jerome S. & Postman, Leo . (1949). On the perception of incongruity: A paradigm. Journal of Personality, 18, 206-223.
Miller, George A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97 (especially the section entitled "The span of immediate memory")
Smith, Edward E. (2001). Cognitive psychology: History. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. New York: Elsevier, pp. 2140-2147.

February 13: From the Cognitive Revolution to Cognitive Science

Thagard, Paul (2004). Cognitive science. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Bechtel, W., Abrahamsen, A., and Graham, G. (2001). Cognitive science: History. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. New York: Elsevier, pp. 2154-2158.
Barker-Plummer, David (2004), Turing machines. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Cole, David (2004). Chinese room argument. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

*February 15: Discussion

February 20: Stances on the Relation of Psychology to the Brain

Smart, J. J. C. (2004). Identity theory of mind. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Levin, Janet
(2004), Functionalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ramsey, William (2003). Eliminative materialism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

*February 22: Multiple Realizability and Reduction

Fodor, Jerry (1974). Special sciences, or the disunity of science as a working hypothesis. Synthese, 28, 97-115.
Bechtel, W. and Mundale, J.
(1999). Multiple realizability revisited: Linking cognitive and neural states. Philosophy of Science, 66, 175-207.
Bickle, John
(2006). Multiple realizability. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

February 27: Representation and Computation

Horst, Steven (2005). The computational theory of mind. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Aydede, Murat (2004). The language of thought hypothesis. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Pitt, David (2004). Mental representation. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (recommended)
Jacob, Pierre (2003), Intentionality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (recommended)

*March 1: Discussion

March 6: Psychology and Neuroscience of Memory

Sutton, John (2004). Memory. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Tulving, Endel (1985). How many memory systems are there? American Psychologist, 40, 385-398.
Squire, Larry (2004). Memory systems of the brain: A brief history and current perspective. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 82, 171–177 (recommended)
Roediger, H.L., Buckner, R. L., & McDermott, K.B. (1999)Components of processing.  In J.K. Foster & M. Jelicic (Eds.), Memory: Systems, process or function? (pp. 31-65).  Oxford, U.K.:  Oxford University Press.

Short paper due!

*March 8: The Fragility of Memory

Loftus, E.F. (1975). Leading questions and the eyewitness report. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 560-572.
Loftus, E. F. (2005). A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory. Learning and Memory, 12, 361-366. (recommended)
Bruck, M., Ceci, S. J., & Hembrooke, H. (2002). The Nature of children's True and False Narratives. Developmental Review, 22, 520-554. (recommended)
Roediger, Henry L. & McDermott, Kathleen B. (2000) . Tricks of memory.  Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 123-127.
Johnson, M. K. (2001). False memories, Psychology of. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. New York: Elsevier, pp. 5254-5259.

March 13: Memory and Personal Identity

Kihlstrom, J. F., Beer, J. S., & Klein, S. B. (2002). Self and identity as memory. M.R. Leary & J. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 68-90).  New York: Guilford Press, 2002

* March 15: Discussion

March 22, 3:00-5:59: Final Exam