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Advice for Choosing Philosophy Courses for Psychology Students

The Philosophy Department actively encourages Psychology students to complete a major or minor in Philosophy. Many of the following courses have interdisciplinary units of instruction that explore the connections between Philosophy and Psychology:

  • Metaphysics and Mind
  • Early Modern Philosophy (BR)
  • 18th-Century Philosophy (BR &FLAC)
  • 19th-Century Philosophy (BR & FLAC)
  • Philosophy and Literature (BR)
  • Existentialism and Film (BR & FLAC)
  • Ethics
  • Theories of Knowledge
  • Contemporary Continental Philosophy (BR & FLAC)
  • Biomedical Ethics

Students who take our "History" courses - e.g. Early Modern, 18th-Century, 19th-Century, and Existentialism - will examine the philosophical foundations of the competing "schools of thought" in Psychology. Traditional philosophical debates among philosophers provide many of the basic concepts that guide contemporary work in psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, learning theory, narrative psychology, behaviorism, developmental psychology, social psychology, and cross-cultural psychology. By engaging in interdisciplinary studies, psychology students will acquire the ability to identify and reflect upon the conceptual issues that arise within and among the competing schools of thought in psychology. Students who take courses such as Theories of Knowledge and Metaphysics and Mind will examine basic issues about what the "mind" or "psyche" is, how it works, and how one might study it. Courses in Ethics and applied Ethics allow students pursuing a career in psychology to study the moral, ethical, and political questions that arise within psychological practice and research.

By taking philosophy courses, psychology students will encounter questions such as the following:

  • What is the traditional distinction between "mind" and "body"?
  • How does human thought relate to the material world?
  • Do our thoughts represent the things they are caused by?
  • Are human thought processes more like feelings and sensations than, say, concepts and inferences?
  • What role do the various faculties of thinking, feeling, sensing, intuition, and imagination play in human experience?
  • Is there a "self" that thinks?
  • What is learning?
  • What are the moral, ethical, and legal issues that arise in psychological counseling and therapy?
  • What kinds of thinking tend to lead human minds astray? What are the ethical ramifications?
  • Is the mind like software running on the hardware of our brain, or is there more to it than that?