History of Modern Psychology

 Dr. R. G. Tonks


Lecture 1: 
Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science


I. Understanding psychology: What is history ?

Danziger (1990, 1994) two perspectives: Inside and Outside

Inside view - typically is: uniform single history, (like stairs or ladder)
seen as celebratory, "whiggish" presentism


Natural science perspective - "Old History" (i.e., Boring, 1929/1950)

Outside view - typically is: critical and "situated"
in studies of history, sociology, and philosophy (of science).

Human science perspective - "New History" (i.e., Danziger, 1990)

[see Figure ]   Power and politics in Science the current-kids & cell Phones
& Stephen Harper and Muzzling Scientists & Libraries

Other perspectives regarding the history of Psychology

Biographical: "Great Scholar Approach"

Zeitgeist: Social influence and "spirit of the times"

"Schools": Distinct schools or worldviews (Weltanschauungen)

Connectionist: Influence of events or inventions on others

Thematical: Seminal themes or issues of concern



II. What is Modern Science?

Following the Renaissance "Enlightenment" science emerges
through Bacon, Galileo, Descartes and Hobbes,
the pillars of science are established.

Empiricism involving Induction and Observation,


Rationalism involving Deduction, Mathematics and certainty

Later, Kant called for empirical science with
a rational foundation. Most of 19th and 20th century
philosophers of science have merely been
seeking "ways out of Kantianism" (Jones, 1975)

What is the Philosophy of Science?

Harre (1986) The aim of the philosophy of science
is to make manifest the principles used in the practice of science.

Two kinds of accounts: Descriptive and Prescriptive


What is a Science?
Descriptive Accounts: What science is.

Rom Harre (1986): Analytical approach

Four traditional branches to Philosophy

i) Epistemology: The theory of knowledge
(sources and methods for validation, including theories of truth)
-Examples: Empiricism and Rationalism;
correspondence and coherence Homer's Brain

ii) Logic: The study of correct reasoning
-Examples: Deduction and Induction


iii) Metaphysics: The careful study of concepts or first principles
such as: Substance, Quality, Causal Relations
-Examples: (Ontology) Idealism and Materialism

iv) Ethics: The theory of (moral) evaluation.
Not traditionally a part of science, although many
current philosophers of science suggest that it cannot be avoided



Thomas Kuhn (1970): Paradigmatic Revolutions

Science is based on Paradigms or "worldviews"
(Weltanschauungen) which are perspectives
shared by the members of scientific communities

Historical development of Sciences:
Pre-paradigm, Normal Science, Crisis, Revolution . . .


  1. Pre-paradigmatic: No single paradigm

  2. or way of looking at the world. Many competing schools
    or "communities" of scientists. Random fact gathering
  3. Normal (Paradigmatic) Science: Consensus on the paradigm

  4. (perspective), the establishment of a scientific community
  5. Crisis: Anomalies arise which cannot adequately

  6. be dealt with using dominant paradigm.
    Return to pre-paradigmatic stage
  7. Revolution: Return to Normal science, as younger

  8. (and some older) scientists adhere to new paradigm.
    There are no "scientific" criteria for paradigm choice,
    only values and aesthetics
Paradigm: an accepted model or pattern, perspective.
It serves to organise our perceptions or ways of thinking about the world

Disciplinary Matrix: The set of fundamental (unstated)
assumptions underlying the paradigm. Usually unconscious,
and not subject to empirical testing


Shared Exemplars: Models of good research through which
students "learn to see" the world through the paradigm's

Puzzle Solving: The actions of scientists during the "Normal
Science" phase, where there are clearly defined "puzzles"
or problems to be solved

Conservatism: The nature of scientists to overlook
anomalies as "bad observations" while maintaining, or
conserving the paradigm which may no longer be functional

Anomalies: Observations or "pieces of the puzzle" which cannot
be explained using the paradigm, or "do not fit the puzzle"

Progress: Appears during the Normal Science phase and is implied
when one paradigm takes over from another, but is not guaranteed

Implicit Hermeneutics: interpretation, dialectic between "observer"
and "the world", value sensitive and critical of paradigm choice


Prescriptive Accounts: What science should be.

Logical Positivism (Logical Empiricism)

Vienna Circle (1930)
Drawing from Auguste Comte and Ernst Mach
Emphasis on logic and objective observation
Description, prediction and control are goals of science
Verificationof generalizations (Laws)

Sir Karl Popper (1902-1994): Falsificationism
(1933) Demarcation Criteria: Science is divided from

psuedo-science or "myth" by making statements
which are potentially falsifiable

Bold conjectures and refutations ought to be the methods of science


Two contexts of scientific activity: Discovery and Justification

Three Worlds
World 3: Products of the human mind.
Language and works of art and science

World 2: World of subjective experiences.
Consciousness and Self-consciousness

World 1: World of physical objects.
Physical elements and living beings

Causality goes both upwards and downwards

Imre Lakatos (1970): Sophisticated Falsificationism

Coexisting Research Programmes,
each with a hard core and a protective belt

Hard Core: Positive statements about basic necessary assumptions
Protective Belt: Auxiliary hypotheses and inferences (predictions)

Rational choice between programmes based upon
progressive and degenerative problem shifts.

Paul Feyerabend (1987): Scientific Anarchy

Farewell to Reason, "Anything Goes"
Science is a social activity and is subject to politics,
irrationality and power abuses

Margaret Benston (1989): Feminist Critique of Scientific Values!


Critical of the sex roles and stereotypes, presumptions
of objectivity, and power imbalances that are associated
with masculine science and its "impoverishment of reality"
to "anti-human ends"

Winnie Thomm et al. (1989)Recovery from the trivialization of women's participation in science, use of qualitative methods (i.e., action research), hearing a women's "voice", personal grounding in perspectives (i.e., standpoint theory), hermeneutics & consciousness raising. 

bell hooks - standpoint theory - it is important to acknowledge the places from which each of us "stand" and interpret the world, many forms of feminism and other perspectives.  

Women against feminism?


Benston, M. (1989). Feminism and the critique of scientific method. In A. Miles & G. Finn (Eds.) Feminism: From pressure to politics. Montreal: Black Rose Books.

Danziger, K. (1990). Constructing the subject: Historical origins of psychological research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Danziger, K. (1994). Does the history of psychology have a future? Theory & psychology, 4, 467-484.

Feyerabend, P. K. (1970). Consolations for the specialist. In I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Feyerabend, P. K. (1987). Farewell to reason. New York: Verso.

Feyerabend, P. K. (1988). Against method. New York: Verso.

Jones, W.T., (1975). A history of Western Philosophy (5 Vols.) New York: Harcourt, Brace Javanovich.

Kuhn, T.S. (1962/1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakatos, I. (1970). Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leahey, T. H. (1994). A history of modern psychology. Englewood-cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Basic.

Popper, K. R. (1970). Normal science and its dangers. In I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.