Philosophy and Psychology

Students who are interested in philosophy are often interested in psychology, and vice versa. This is no surprise, since philosophy and psychology address many of the same questions, although from different angles: What is the connection between reason and emotions? Are our moral judgments based on reason or emotion? Are concepts and knowledge largely innate or entirely learned? Is the mind just the brain? Why do we perceive and understand the world the ways we do?

The following Philosophy courses are among those that would be of interest to psychology majors:

  • PHIL 2003: Intro to Philosophy: Generally covers, in an introductory way, all the questions just mentioned.
  • PHIL 1003: Reason and Discovery: Combines discoveries in the psychology of reasoning, as well as logic and probability theory from philosophy, to improving students’ reasoning and argumentation.
  • PHIL 2303: Human Nature and the Meaning of Life: Who are we? What is our nature as human beings? How do answers to these questions teach us about what is valuable and meaningful in life?
  • PHIL 3443: Animal Minds: Examines our evidence for attributing thought, consciousness, and reason to nonhuman animals, investigating the psychological differences and similarities between them and us.
  • PHIL 4033: Modern Philosophy: Covers 17th and 18th century European philosophy, where much of the foundations of contemporary psychology were laid down, including debates about innateness, the nature and sources of knowledge, questions about the immateriality of the mind/soul and the relation between the mind and the body, and questions about how the structure of the mind influences our perception of reality.
  • PHIL 4093: Philosophy of Psychology (cross-listed with Psychology): Methodological and theoretical issues in (mostly cognitive) psychology, including recent debates about the nature of mental representation, the nature of concepts, questions about innateness and modularity, the relevance of neuroscience, and the nature of consciousness.
  • PHIL 4183: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: All the topics just mentioned in connection with Modern Philosophy, in the context of the most famous and difficult of the Modern philosophers: Immanuel Kant.
  • PHIL 4203: Theory of Knowledge: What is the difference between knowing and making a lucky guess? The former is “warranted” or “justified.” But what is the nature of this justification? How can perception, memory, and reason give rise to it?
  • PHIL 4213: Philosophy of Science: Examines the nature of scientific theories and the evidence for them. 
  • PHIL 4423: Philosophy of Mind: Focuses on the mind-body problem: Can the mind be a material thing? If not, how can it interact with the body or the world around it? Other central questions are also addressed: Can computers think? What is the nature of consciousness?

If you have questions, contact Professor Jack Lyons (