A Philosophical Critique of Personality-Type Theory in Psychology : Esyenck, Myers-Briggs, and Jung

Today, any credible philosophical attempt to discuss personhood must take some position on the proper relation between the philosophical analysis of topics like action, intention, emotion, normative and evaluate judgment, desire and mood --which are grouped together under the heading of `moral psychology'-- and the usually quite different approaches to ostensibly the same phenomena in contemporary theoretical psychology and psychoanalytic practice. The gulf between these two domains is so deep that influential work in each takes no direct account of developments in the other.(1) I believe that there is much to be learned about dominant and often hidden assumptions in contemporary approaches to personhood by comparisons between these fields,(2) but at the outset I want to distinguish this intuition from another one in vogue among philosophers working to bridge the gap between philosophical and psychological disciplines today. This is the somewhat positivist sense that philsophical investigation must take its starting-points and limits from well-established psychological findings, and that philosophical accounts at odds with these are for that reason unrealistic, or obviously trading on outmoded and scientifically discredited `folk metaphysics.' For example, this sense that philosophy must acknowledge its secondary position relative to empirical psychology is implicit throughout Bernard Williams's work on motivation and morality, and it is the explicit basis of Owen Flanagan's recent attempt to limit ethical theory by `psychological realism' and argue for a form of relativism by "[a]ttention to psychological facts." (3) Because all modern conceptions of morality are committed to making "our motivational structure, our personal possibilities, relevant in setting their moral sights," they cannot be developed without..
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