Psychological laws

Erkenntnis 58 (3):275-302 (2003)
Abstract
  John McDowell claims that the propositional attitudes, and our conceptual abilities in general, are not appropriate topics for inquiry of the sort that is done in natural science. He characterizes the natural sciences as making phenomena intelligible in terms of their place in the realm of laws of nature. He claims that this way of making phenomena intelligible contrasts crucially with essential features of our understanding of propositional attitudes and conceptual abilities. In this article I show that scientific work of the sort McDowell claims cannot be done is in fact being done, and that this work presents strong evidence that there are psychological laws. The research I discuss is that by the psychologist Norman H. Anderson and his colleagues. I also argue that the considerations McDowell presents in defense of his claims do not constitute a significant challenge to the research that Anderson and his colleagues have done. It will be noted in the article that Anderson's work is relevant not just to McDowell's writings, but also to several much discussed issues in philosophy of cognitive science: the above two issues of whether there can be a science of ordinary psychological phenomena, higher cognition, comparable to that of the natural sciences and whether such a science would present laws, and also the issue of whether in such a science, and its laws, notions of folk psychology would play crucial constitutive roles. Anderson's work presents strong grounds for affirmative answers to all of these questions
Keywords Cognition  Laws  Propositional Attitudes  Psychology  Science  Anderson, N  Mcdowell, J
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