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Selected Philosophical and Methodological Papers

Selected Philosophical and Methodological Papers

Paul E. Meehl
C. Anthony Anderson
Keith Gunderson
Copyright Date: 1991
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 308
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  • Book Info
    Selected Philosophical and Methodological Papers
    Book Description:

    A collection of papers that demonstrates the unusual scope and imagination of Meehl’s contributions to the field of philosophy, inlcuding incisive writings on the mind-body problem, freedom and determinism, psychoanalytic explanation, theory appraisal, moral aspects of insanity and the law, and precognitive telepathy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8340-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    C. Anthony Anderson and Keith Gunderson

    The privilege of being able to indulge ourselves in a brief foreword to this distinguished volume stems from the fact that our encouragement might have played a partial causal role in its publication by the University of Minnesota Press at this time. But had it not been for us, others most certainly would in due course have urged the appearance of a collection very much like it. For it contains recognizable “classics” (some collaborative) not all that easily come by and never displayed together, as well as lengthy and deep pieces of philosophical analysis greatly admired by those who are...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxx)
    Paul E. Meehl
  5. 1 Theoretical Risks and Tabular Asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the Slow Progress of Soft Psychology
    (pp. 1-42)

    I had supposed that the title gave an easy tipoff to my topic, but some puzzled reactions by my Minnesota colleagues show otherwise, which heartens me because it suggests that what I am about to say is not trivial and universally known. The two knights are Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1959, 1962, 1972; Schilpp, 1974) and Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1956, 1966, 1967), whose respective emphases on subjecting scientific theories to grave danger of refutation (that’s Sir Karl) and major reliance on tests of statistical significance (that’s Sir Ronald) are, at least in current practice, not well integrated—perhaps even...

  6. 2 Psychological Determinism and Human Rationality: A Psychologist’s Reactions to Professor Karl Popper’s “Of Clouds and Clocks”
    (pp. 43-96)

    In the Second Arthur Holly Compton Memorial Lecture, engagingly titled “Of Clouds and Clocks,” Sir Karl Popper addresses himself to a long-familiar problem about psychological determinism, indicated by the lecture’s subtitle, “An Approach to the Problem of Rationality and the Freedom of Man.”¹ The lecture treats of several interconnected themes, ontological, historical, and methodological. I want to emphasize that the present paper is in no sense an “attack” on the lecture as a whole, which abounds with the usual Popper stimulation and perspicuity, and from which I have learned much. Some of the interpretation (e.g., the indeterministic features of classical...

  7. 3 The Determinism-Freedom and Body-Mind Problems
    (pp. 97-135)
    Herbert Feigl

    Our cherished friend, Sir Karl, has very penetratingly and challengingly dealt in several essays¹ with two of the most difficult and controversial issues of modern philosophy and science. In accordance with Popper’s own designations we shall speak of “Compton’s problem” and “Descartes’s problem.” Compton’s problem is how to account for free choice and genuine (artistic or scientific) creativity; Descartes’s problem concerns the relation of the mental to the physical. These problems are closely related, and both are viewed by Popper in the light of modern physics, biology, psychology and the theory of language. Although we do not pretend to know...

  8. 4 Psychological Determinism or Chance: Configural Cerebral Autoselection as a Tertium Quid
    (pp. 136-168)

    I begin by responding to two thoughts that I daresay are in the reader’s mind, as they were in mine when I debated with myself about accepting the invitation to write on this topic. Is it possible to say anything really new about this ancient problem in the present state of philosophical, neurological, and psychological knowledge? I myself often think that since Jonathan Edwards’s great work (1754/1969) and the important papers of Hobart (1934), the University of California Associates (1938), and C. D. Broad (1934), very little incisive and illuminating has been done, and hardly anything radicallynew.One might...

  9. 5 A Most Peculiar Paradox
    (pp. 169-170)

    The “empirical identity” view of the denotata of neurophysiological and phenomenal terms has been challenged as follows: Assume complete determinism in the physical (brain-state) series, and a parallelism between it and the phenomenal (mind-state) series. Suppose the parallelism is interrupted so that the subject experiences a phenomenal state different from that which has been invariably correlated with the present brain-state. No “interaction” occurs, so that all the physical laws hold as usual; yet the subject “would surely know” that he was having the one experience rather than the other. Thus, if an external observer informed him as to the current...

  10. 6 The Concept of Emergence
    (pp. 171-183)
    Wilfrid Sellars

    Somewhat over a quarter of a century ago, Professor Stephen Pepper published a paper on “Emergence” (1) which was (and still is) symptomatic of a certain way of thinking on this topic. The paper had the virtues of brevity and clarity, and, which is more important, it went to the heart of the matter. The fact that the crucial step in its argument is a simplenon sequiturby no means detracts from its diagnostic value as a document in the controversy over emergence.

    Before we examine Professor Pepper’s argument, two introductory remarks are in order.

    1. Our aim is...

  11. 7 The Compleat Autocerebroscopist: A Thought-Experiment on Professor Feigl’s Mind-Body Identity Thesis
    (pp. 184-248)

    Professor Feigl’s mind-body identity thesis, which may be characterized as a daring hypothesis of “empirical metaphysics,” asserts that human raw-feel events are literally and numerically identical with certain physical₂ brain-events. By physical₂ events he means, adopting the terminology of Meehl and Sellars (essay 6, this volume), events which can be exhaustively described in a language sufficient to describe everything that exists and happens in a universe devoid of organic life. Given the set of descriptive terms (predicates and functors) which would be capable of describing without residue all continuants and occurrents in an inorganic world (say, perhaps, our world in...

  12. 8 On a Distinction between Hypothetical Constructs and Intervening Variables
    (pp. 249-264)
    Kenneth MacCorquodale

    As the thinking of behavior theorists has become more sophisticated and selfconscious, there has been considerable discussion of the value and logical status of so-called ‘intervening variables.’ Hull speaks of “symbolic constructs, intervening variables, or hypothetical entities” (1943, p. 22) and deals with them in his theoretical discussion as being roughly equivalent notions. At least, his exposition does not distinguish among them explicitly. In his presidential address on behavior at a choice point, Tolman (1938, p. 13) inserts one of Hull’s serial conditioning diagrams between the independent variables (maintenance schedule, goal object, etc.) and the dependent variable (‘behavior ratio’) to...

  13. 9 Psychopathology and Purpose
    (pp. 265-271)

    When I received an invitation from Dr. Paul H. Hoch to address the American Psychopathological Association, I was, of course, pleased and honored; but I was also conflicted, because the topic that came to my mind was so smacking of heresy for most psychologists and psychiatrists that I wondered whether it would even be taken seriously. Furthermore, I have spent many hours arguing over the question with the (then) treasurer of the association, Dr. Bernard C. Glueck; and as a former analysand of his, I could hardly avoid the thought that my choice of topic might be partly determined by...

  14. 10 Some Methodological Reflections on the Difficulties of Psychoanalytic Research
    (pp. 272-283)

    Whatever the verisimilitude¹ of Freud’s theories, it will surely be a matter of comment by future historians of science that a system of ideas which has exerted such a powerful and pervasive influence upon both professional practitioners and contemporary culture should, two-thirds of a century after the promulgation of its fundamental concepts, still remain a matter of controversy. That fact in itself should lead us to suspect that there is something methodologically peculiar about the relation of psychoanalytic concepts to their evidential base.

    Let me begin by saying that I reject what has come to be called “operationism” as a...

  15. 11 Subjectivity in Psychoanalytic Inference: The Nagging Persistence of Wilhelm Fliess’s Achensee Question
    (pp. 284-337)

    An alternative subtitle to this essay, which my non-Freudian Minnesota colleagues urged upon me, would have been, “Whose mind does the mind-reader read?” To motivate discussion of a topic not deemed important by some today, consider the story of the last “Congress” between Freud and Fliess, the rupture of their relationship at Achensee in the summer of 1900—the last time the two men ever met, although an attenuated correspondence continued for a couple of years more. Setting aside the doubtless complex psychodynamics, and the prior indications (from both content and density of correspondence) that the relationship was deteriorating, I...

  16. 12 The Virtues of M’Naghten
    (pp. 338-394)
    Joseph M. Livermore

    Imposing punishment on those who transgress criminal proscriptions has been thought to serve the interests of society in a number of ways. The painfulness of the punishment is designed to deter others from engaging in conduct inimical to these interests. Similarly, to the extent that an offender is likely to offend again, his imprisonment will protect society from further depredations by him. Finally, punishment and other therapeutic means utilized during imprisonment may rehabilitate the offender into a useful and law-abiding citizen.¹

    That individual conduct has adversely affected interests protected by the criminal law, however, has rarely been enough to invoke...

  17. 13 On the Justifications for Civil Commitment
    (pp. 395-415)
    Joseph M. Livermore and Carl P. Malmquist

    Involuntary confinement is the most serious deprivation of individual liberty that a society may impose. The philosophical justifications for such a deprivation by means of the criminal process have been thoroughly explored. No such intellectual effort has been directed at providing justifications for societal use of civil commitment procedures.¹

    When certain acts are forbidden by the criminal law, we are relatively comfortable in imprisoning those who have engaged in such acts. We say that the imprisonment of the offender will serve as an example to others and thus deter them from violating the law. If we even stop to consider...

  18. 14 Psychology and the Criminal Law
    (pp. 416-439)

    The two opposite errors a lawyer may make in evaluating the social scientist’s contribution to law are to be overly critical and hostile, or to be unduly impressed and uncritically receptive. I have seen examples of both mistakes. The extreme form of the first attitude is shown by the lawyer who frankly believes that psychology, psychiatry, and sociology are mostly “baloney,” pretentious disciplines which have abandoned common-sense knowledge of human life¹ but whose claim to have substituted scientific knowledge is spurious. I would like to believe that this hostile attitude is always based upon misinformation or ignorance; but unfortunately, if...

  19. 15 Law and the Fireside Inductions: Some Reflections of a Clinical Psychologist
    (pp. 440-480)

    Lawmen will immediately see the point of my title, but for social science readers I should explain. The phrase “fireside equities” is legalese for what the legal layman feels intuitively or common-sensically would be a fair or just result (see, e.g., Llewellyn, 1960). Sometimes the law accords with the fireside equities, sometimes not; and lawyers use the phrase with derisive connotation. Analogously, by the language “fireside inductions” I mean those common-sense empirical generalizations about human behavior which we accept on the culture’s authority plus introspection plus anecdotal evidence from ordinary life. Roughly, the phrase “fireside inductions” designates here what everybody...

  20. 16 The Insanity Defense
    (pp. 481-496)

    The proximate cause of my being invited to present this lecture was concern among Minnesota psychologists about what the legislature might do, perhaps with insufficient reflection on the complexities, by way of amending the Minnesota statute covering the insanity defense to a criminal charge. In a previous session, a bill was introduced that excluded the insanity defense except insofar as the patient’s mental condition went to the possibility of intent as a material element of the crime. Within a larger social context, we know that there is widespread concern about the insanity defense, leading to what some consider ill-advised legislation...

  21. 17 Compatibility of Science and ESP
    (pp. 497-499)
    Michael Scriven

    As two of the people whose comments on an early draft of George Price’s article on “Science and the Supernatural” he acknowledged in a footnote, we should like to clarify our position by presenting the following remarks.

    Price’s argument stands or falls on two hypotheses, only the first of which he appears to defend. They are (1) that extrasensory perception (ESP) is incompatible with modern science and (2) that modern science is complete and correct.

    If ESP isnotincompatible with modern science, then the Humean skeptic has no opportunity to insist on believing modern science rather than the reports...

  22. 18 Precognitive Telepathy I: On the Possibility of Distinguishing It Experimentally from Psychokinesis
    (pp. 500-525)

    It has sometimes been argued that we cannot, in principle, design an experiment which would permit us to distinguish between precognitive telepathy and psychokinesis as alternative theoretical explanations of those extra-chance parapsychological effects usually taken to indicate “backward (telepathic) causality.” (See, e.g., discussion in Mackie, 1974, pp. 160-92 and references therein; see also Soal and Bateman, 1954, pp. 80-82, 89; Mundle, 1950, 1952; Wheatley and Edge, 1976, especially Section III.) The reasoning is simple and straightforward, and on first hearing appears compelling; but I shall attempt to show that it is nevertheless unsound, by describing an experimental arrangement, easily realizable...

  23. 19 Precognitive Telepathy II: Some Neurophysiological Conjectures and Metaphysical Speculations
    (pp. 526-544)

    For expository simplicity in a paper that is philosophical rather than scientifically substantive (in the sense of seriously defending a specific neurophysiological theory about how the brain works in ESP experiments), I shall permit myself some framework assumptions about the functioning of CNS subsystems and single neurons. This will make it easier to discuss the methodological issues than if I were to invent a new “general substantive vocabulary” or—so clumsy as to be unfeasible—to set up a disjunction of alternative conjectures about brain function which would, even if wearisomely long and conceptually difficult, obviously have to be incomplete....

  24. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 545-546)
  25. Publications of P. E. Meehl
    (pp. 547-558)
  26. Index
    (pp. 559-574)
  27. Back Matter
    (pp. 575-575)