Modules 11-12: History of Psychology, Philosophy of Psychology, and Professional Ethics for Psychologists
In this two-module course (12 is an extension of 11), students reflect on the historical background, the ethical challenges and responsibilities, and the philosophical foundation of their discipline. The course starts with an introduction to major figures, concepts, and theories in the history of psychology, from ancient Greece to today. The emphasis lies on how this background gives rise to particular approaches to psychology and the question of what kind of science psychology really is. Moreover, the course also introduces students to current debates in the philosophy of psychology and related fields – especially the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of technology, and theories of knowledge. The course thus enables students to examine the implications of the philosophical and historical background for the practice of psychology, its methodologies, and conceptions of human nature. On top of this, the course also introduces students to ethical challenges and professional duties particular to the discipline of psychology. This includes the Dutch codes of ethics (NIP codes), tools for ethical analysis, as well as challenging moral scenarios discussed in the seminars.
The two modules consist of three parts: History of Psychology, Philosophy of Psychology, and Professional Ethics for Psychologists.
In Philosophy of Psychology, we take a closer look at various underlying fundamental issues in psychology, their theoretical underpinnings, and their connection to society and technology. We cover epistemological issues (e.g., the replication crisis, measurement in psychological research), metaphysical issues (e.g., the nature of the human mind, free will), basic psychological concepts (e.g., “the self”), knowledge claims in psychology (e.g., “X is a mental disorder”), and even the very nature of the mind. Questions that will be addressed include: “Does free will exist? What does the replication crisis tell us about the validity of psychological experiments? Why is the concept of mental disorder epistemically, socially, and politically controversial?”. This course aims to connect fundamental questions to concrete issues in psychological practice (in the clinic, organizations, and labs) and the technologies employed therein, such as the validity of questionnaires, particular views on what mental disorders are embodied in psychological treatment, or the use of nudges to change behavior in “persuasive technologies” and their relation to free will. Making such connections explicit will help students to justify certain practices, critically reflect on their shortcomings, and argue for potential alternatives. At the end of this part of module 11, students will become familiar with philosophical approaches to psychology and explore their connection to society and technology; understand the main philosophical issues in psychological methodology, basic concepts, and knowledge claim in connection to the nature of the mind and the self; and be able to critically assess debates in the philosophy of psychology.
RESTS Teachers: Yashar Saghai, Ciano Aydin, Bas de Boer, Maren Behrensen, Saana Jukola, and Kristy Claassen (Section Philosophy)