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Paperback | $30.00 Short | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262530651 | 208 pp. | 6 x 9 in | September 1985

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The Nature of Psychological Explanation


In exploring the nature of psychological explanation, this book looks at how psychologists theorize about the human ability to calculate, to speak a language and the like. It shows how good theorizing explains or tries to explain such abilities as perception and cognition. It recasts the familiar explanations of "intelligence" and "cognitive capacity" as put forward by philosophers such as Fodor, Dennett, and others in terms of a theory of explanation that makes established doctrine more intelligible to professionals and their students.

In particular, the book shows that vestigial adherence to the positivists' D-N model has distorted the view of philosophers of science about what psychologists (and biologists) do and has masked the real nature of explanation. Major sections in the book cover Analysis and Subsumption; Functional Analysis; Understanding Cognitive Capacities; and Historical Reflections.

A Bradford Book.

About the Author

Robert Cummins is Professor of Philosophy at University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.


"I found Robert Cummins' The Nature of Psychological Explanation so interesting that I had a hard time putting it down. The topic is timely and the style lively and inviting. More important professionally, the contributions to the philosophy of cognitive science and of science generally are original and significant. The book should have a wide appeal in a variety of philosophy courses and methodology courses in psychology and in artificial intelligence."
- John Haugeland, University of Pittsburgh