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Psychologism Revisited in Logic, Metaphysics, and Epistemology

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Psychologism is a philosophical ideology that seeks to explain the principles of logic, metaphysics, and epistemology as psychological phenomena. Psychologism has been the storm center of concerted criticisms since the nineteenth century, and is thought by many to have been refuted once and for all by Kant, Frege, Husserl, and others. The project of accounting for objective philosophical or mathematical truths in terms of subjective psychological states has been largely discredited in mainstream analytic thought. Ironically, psychologism has resurfaced in unexpected guises in the form of intuitionistic logic and mathematics, cognitivism, and naturalized epistemology. I examine some of the principal objections to psychologism – distinguishing roughly between good and bad or philosophically acceptable versus unacceptable psychologism – and consider the extent to which a new wave of psychologism may be gaining prominence in contemporary philosophy, and the light its successes and failures may shed on the original concept and underlying perspective of classical psychologism.

Keywords: Boole; Kant; Quine; Rescher; Wittgenstein; epistemology; epistemology naturalized; logic; metaphysics; psychologism; psychology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University, 246 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2001


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