In John Lachs and Robert Talisse (ed.), American Philosophy: an Encyclopedia. ROUTLEDGE. pp. 628-9 (2007)

John Corcoran
State University of New York, Buffalo
Corcoran, J. 2007. Psychologism. American Philosophy: an Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge. Pages 628-9. Psychologism with respect to a given branch of knowledge, in the broadest neutral sense, is the view that the branch is ultimately reducible to, or at least is essentially dependent on, psychology. The parallel with logicism is incomplete. Logicism with respect to a given branch of knowledge is the view that the branch is ultimately reducible to logic. Every branch of knowledge depends on logic. Psychologism is found in several fields including history, political science, economics, ethics, epistemology, linguistics, aesthetics, mathematics, and logic. Logicism is found mainly in branches of mathematics: number theory, analysis, and, more rarely, geometry. Although the ambiguous term ‘psychologism’ has senses with entirely descriptive connotations, it is widely used in senses that are derogatory. No writers with any appreciation of this point will label their own views as psychologistic. It is usually used pejoratively by people who disapprove of psychologism. The term ‘scientism’ is similar in that it too has both pejorative and descriptive senses but its descriptive senses are rarely used any more. It is almost a law of linguistics that the negative connotations tend to drive out the neutral and the positive. Dictionaries sometimes mark both words with a usage label such as “Usually disparaging”. In this article, the word is used descriptively mainly because there are many psychologistic views that are perfectly respectable and even endorsed by people who would be offended to have their views labeled psychologism. A person who subscribes to logicism is called a logicist, but there is no standard word for a person who subscribes to psychologism. ‘Psychologist’, which is not suitable, occurs in this sense. ‘Psychologician’, with stress on the second syllable as in ‘psychologist’, has been proposed. In the last century, some of the most prominent forms of psychologism pertained to logic; the rest of this article treats only such forms. Psychologism in logic is very “natural”. After all, logic studies reasoning, which is done by the mind, whose nature and functioning is studied in psychology—using the word ‘psychology’ in its broadest etymological sense.
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Peirce's Supposed Psychologism.Jeff Kasser - 1999 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 35 (3):501 - 526.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Hare and Others on the Proposition.John Corcoran - 2011 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 15 (1):51-76.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Boole and Mill: Differing Perspectives on Logical Psychologism.John Richards - 1980 - History and Philosophy of Logic 1 (1-2):19-36.
Aspects of Psychologism.Tim Crane - 2014 - Harvard University Press.
Psychologism in Logic: Husserl's Critique.Jack W. Meiland - 1976 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 19 (1-4):325 – 339.
Psychologism the Philosophical Shibboleth.Dale Jacquette - 1997 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 30 (3):312 - 331.
Psychologism and the Prescriptive Function of Logic.Herman Philipse - 1987 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 29 (1):13-33.
Logic And Cognition.Mariusz Urbański - 2011 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 20 (1-2):175-185.
Was Wittgenstein Frege's Heir?Karen Green - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):289-308.
Frege's Target.Charles Travis - 2002 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 51:305-343.
Varieties of Psychologism.Adrian Cussins - 1987 - Synthese 70 (1):123 - 154.


Added to PP index

Total views
231 ( #40,585 of 2,432,772 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #73,543 of 2,432,772 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes