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Philosophy of psychology refers to issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology. Some of these issues are epistemological concerns about the methodology of psychological investigation. For example:

  • What is the most appropriate methodology for psychology: mentalism, behaviorism, or a compromise?
  • Are self-reports a reliable data gathering method?
  • What conclusions can be drawn from null hypothesis tests?
  • Can first-person experiences (emotions, desires, beliefs, etc.) be measured objectively?

Other issues in philosophy of psychology are philosophical questions about the nature of mind, brain, and cognition, and are perhaps more commonly thought of as part of cognitive science, or philosophy of mind, such as:

Philosophy of psychology also closely monitors contemporary work conducted in cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and artificial intelligence, questioning what they can and cannot explain in psychology.

Philosophy of psychology is a relatively young field because psychology, under the Scientific Method, came to dominate psychological studies beginning in the late nineteenth century and today stands alone as psychology's primary method. Thus it became necessary for this new branch of philosophy to distinguish among the many different schools of psychology that have arisen; for example, to explain what are the differences, how they differ, and why is it important to know the differences. Philosophy of mind, for example, was a well-established discipline and easily incorporated the Scientific Method within its ambit. It is concerned with questions about the very nature of mind, the qualities of experience, and particular issues like the debate between dualism and monism.

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