Uljana Feest Universität Hannover
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  • Faculty, Universität Hannover
  • PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 2003.

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About me
I am a philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy and history of the behavioral sciences (psychology, social science, cognitive science). I am particularly interested in the epistemological challenges that arise in those fields, and I address these challenges by analyzing observational and experimental practices and scientific methodologies.
My works
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  1. Uljana Feest (forthcoming). Phenomenal Experiences, First-Person Methods, and the Artificiality of Experimental Data. Philosophy of Science.
    This paper argues that whereas philosophical discussions of first-person methods often turn on the veridicality of first-person reports, more attention should be paid to the experimental circumstances under which the reports are generated, and to the purposes of designing such experiments. After pointing to the ‘constructedness’ of first-person reports in the science of perception, I raise questions about the criteria by which to judge whether the reports illuminate something about the nature of perception. I illustrate this point with a historical (...)
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  2. Uljana Feest (forthcoming). The Continuing Relevance of 19th-Century Philosophy of Psychology: Brentano and the Autonomy of Psychological Methods. In M. C. Galavotti & F. Stadler (eds.), The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective. Springer.
    This paper provides an analysis of Franz Brentano’s thesis that psychology employs a distinctive method, which sets it apart from physiology. The aim of the paper is two-fold: First, I situate Brentano’s thesis (and the broader metaphysical system that underwrites it) within the context of specific debates about the nature and status of psychology, arguing that we regard him as engaging in a form of boundary work. Second, I explore the relevance of Brentano’s considerations to more recent debates about autonomy (...)
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  3. Uljana Feest (2014). The Continuing Relevance of 19th-Century Philosophy of Psychology: Brentano and the Autonomy of Psychological Methods. In New Directions in the Philosophy of Science, The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective 5. Springer. Springer. 693-709.
    This paper provides an analysis of Franz Brentano’s thesis that psychology employs a distinctive method, which sets it apart from physiology. The aim of the paper is two-fold: First, I situate Brentano’s thesis (and the broader metaphysical system that underwrites it) within the context of specific debates about the nature and status of psychology, arguing that we regard him as engaging in a form of boundary work. Second, I explore the relevance of Brentano’s considerations to more recent debates about autonomy (...)
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  4. Uljana Feest (2012). Exploratory Experiments, Concept Formation, and Theory Construction in Psychology. In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. 3--167.
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  5. Uljana Feest (2012). Husserl's Crisis as a Crisis of Psychology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (2):493-503.
    This paper places Husserl’s mature work, The Crisis of the European Sciences, in the context of his engagement with – and critique of – experimental psychology at the time. I begin by showing (a) that Husserl accorded psychology a crucial role in his philosophy, i.e., that of providing a scientific analysis of subjectivity, and (b) that he viewed contemporary psychology – due to its naturalism – as having failed to pursue this goal in the appropriate manner. I then provide an (...)
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  6. Uljana Feest (2012). Introspection as a Method and Introspection as a Feature of Consciousness. Inquiry 55 (1):1 - 16.
    Abstract If we take for granted that introspection is indispensable for the study of conscious mental states, the question arises what criteria have to be met in order for introspective reports to qualify as scientific evidence. There have been some attempts to argue (implicitly or explicitly) that it is possible to provide a satisfactory answer to this question while remaining agnostic with respect to questions about the nature of consciousness. Focusing on the aim of using introspection in order to generate (...)
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  7. Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.) (2012). Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. de Gruyter.
    Combining philosophical and historical scholarship, the articles in this volume focus on scientific concepts, rather than theories, as units of analysis. They thereby contribute to a growing literature about the role of concepts in scientific research. The authors are particularly interested in exploring the dynamics of research; they investigate the ways in which scientists form and use concepts, rather than in what the concepts themselves represent. The fields treated range from mathematics to virology and genetics, from nuclear physics to psychology, (...)
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  8. Uljana Feest (2011). Remembering (Short-Term) Memory: Oscillations of an Epistemic Thing. Erkenntnis 75 (3):391-411.
    This paper provides an interpretation of Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s notions of epistemic things and historical epistemology . I argue that Rheinberger’s approach articulates a unique contribution to current debates about integrated HPS, and I propose some modifications and extensions of this contribution. Drawing on examples from memory research, I show that Rheinberger is right to highlight a particular feature of many objects of empirical research (“epistemic things”)—especially in the contexts of exploratory experimentation—namely our lack of knowledge about them. I argue that (...)
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  9. Uljana Feest (2011). What Exactly is Stabilized When Phenomena Are Stabilized? Synthese 182 (1):57-71.
    The last two decades have seen a rising interest in (a) the notion of a scientific phenomenon as distinct from theories and data, and (b) the intricacies of experimentally producing and stabilizing phenomena. This paper develops an analysis of the stabilization of phenomena that integrates two aspects that have largely been treated separately in the literature: one concerns the skills required for empirical work; the other concerns the strategies by which claims about phenomena are validated. I argue that in order (...)
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  10. Uljana Feest & Thomas Sturm (2011). What (Good) is Historical Epistemology? Editors' Introduction. Erkenntnis 75 (3):285-302.
    We provide an overview of three ways in which the expression “Historical epistemology” (HE) is often understood: (1) HE as a study of the history of higher-order epistemic concepts such as objectivity, observation, experimentation, or probability; (2) HE as a study of the historical trajectories of the objects of research, such as the electron, DNA, or phlogiston; (3) HE as the long-term study of scientific developments. After laying out various ways in which these agendas touch on current debates within both (...)
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  11. Uljana Feest (2010). Concepts as Tools in the Experimental Generation of Knowledge in Cognitive Neuropsychology. Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):173-190.
    This paper asks (a) how new scientific objects of research are onceptualized at a point in time when little is known about them, and (b) how those conceptualizations, in turn, figure in the process of investigating the phenomena in question. Contrasting my approach with existing notions of concepts and situating it in relation to existing discussions about the epistemology of experimentation, I propose to think of concepts as research tools. I elaborate on the conception of a tool that informs my (...)
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  12. Uljana Feest (2010). “Historical Perspectives on Erklären and Verstehen: Introduction”. In , Historical Perspectives on Erklären and Verstehen.
    The conceptual pair of "Erklären" and "Verstehen" (explanation and understanding) has been an object of philosophical and methodological debates for well over a century. Discussions – to this day – are centered around the question of whether certain objects or issues, such as those dealing with humans or society, require a special approach, different from that of the physical sciences. In the course of such philosophical discussions, we frequently find references to historical predecessors, such as Dilthey’s discussion of the relationship (...)
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  13. Uljana Feest (2007). Science and Experience/Science of Experience: Gestalt Psychology and the Anti-Metaphysical Project of the Aufbau. Perspectives on Science 15 (1):1-25.
    : This paper investigates the way in which Rudolf Carnap drew on Gestalt psychological notions when defining the basic elements of his constitutional system. I argue that while Carnap's conceptualization of basic experience was compatible with ideas articulated by members of the Berlin/Frankfurt school of Gestalt psychology, his formal analysis of the relationship between two basic experiences ("recollection of similarity") was not. This is consistent, given that Carnap's aim was to provide a unified reconstruction of scientific knowledge, as opposed to (...)
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  14. Uljana Feest (2007). 'Hypotheses, Everywhere Only Hypotheses!': On Some Contexts of Dilthey's Critique of Explanatory Psychology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):43-62.
    In 1894, Wilhelm Dilthey published an article in which he formulated a critique of what he called ‘explanatory psychology’, contrasting it with his own conception of ‘descriptive psychology’. Dilthey’s descriptive psychology, in turn, was to provide the basis for Dilthey’s specific philosophy of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). In this paper, I contextualize Dilthey’s critique of explanatory psychology. I show that while this critique comes across as very broad and sweeping, he in fact had specific opponents in mind, namely, scholars who, (...)
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  15. Uljana Feest (2005). Operationism in Psychology - What the Debate is About, What the Debate Should Be About. Journal for the Histoty of the Behavioral Sciences 41 (2):131-150.
    I offer an analysis of operationism in psychology, which is rooted in an historical study of the investigative practices of two of its early proponents (S. S. Stevens and E. C. Tolman). According to this analysis, early psychological operationists emphasized the importance of experimental operations and called for scientists to specify what kinds of operations were to count as empirical indicators for the referents of their concepts. While such specifications were referred to as “definitions,” I show that such definitions were (...)
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  16. Uljana Feest (2003). Functional Analysis and the Autonomy of Psychology. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):937-948.
    This paper examines the notion that psychology is autonomous. It is argued that we need to distinguish between (a) the question of whether psychological explanations are autonomous, and (b) the question of whether the process of psychological discovery is autonomous. The issue is approached by providing a reinterpretation of Robert Cummins's notion of functional analysis (FA). A distinction is drawn between FA as an explanatory strategy and FA as an investigative strategy. It is argued that the identification of functional components (...)
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