This book covers key movements that helped to shape psychology – from the early philosophical debate between rationalism and empiricism or realists and antirealists through to the emergence of psychology as a science and the ongoing debates about ‘objectivity’ and ‘truth’ and what a science of psychology should be. Often nuanced and complex, the author examines major conceptual issues in the history of psychology that continue to be debated and influence public policy and lay understanding. The latter stages of the book explore notions of individuality, hereditarianism, critical psychology, and feminist perspectives. While deeply rooted in human history, it is made clear that psychology, how it is conceived and practiced, has a bearing on our understanding of what it is to be human. Accessible, objective and above all comprehensive, this book will help students locate psychology in the wider field of science and understand the forces that continue to shape and define it.

Free Will versus Determinism

Free Will versus Determinism

Learning Objective

Since determinism is a basic assumption in science, and psychology aspires to scientific status, mainstream psychology has tended to support the dismissal of free will, or agency.

  • Quite possibly you have struggled with this, as William James (1842–1910) did. If science was right, he was deluded for believing in his ability to act as he saw fit and was less of a being, a human being, than his life experience suggested to him. In what follows you should come to appreciate his dilemma.
  • In understanding the issues involved, and the arguments that have been put forward, you will be armed intellectually to meet this dilemma. It is expected that you will be equipped to establish for yourself how ...
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