Functional Analysis and the Autonomy of Psychology

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Feest, Uljana
preprint description
This paper examines the notion that psychology is autonomous. It is argued that we need to distinguish between (a) the question of whether psychological explanations are autonomous, and (b) the question of whether the process of psychological discovery is autonomous. The issue is approached by providing a re-interpretation of Robert Cummins' notion of functional analysis (FA). A distinction is drawn between FA as an explanatory strategy and FA as an investigative strategy. It is argued that the identification of functional components of the cognitive system may draw on knowledge about brain structure, without thereby jeopardizing the explanatory autonomy of psychology.