Physicalism, Introspection, and Psychophysics: The Carnap/Duncker Exchange

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Feest, Uljana
conference paper description
In 1932, Rudolf Carnap published his article “Psychology in a Physical Language.” The article prompted a critical response by the Gestalt psychologist Karl Duncker. The exchange is marked by mutual lack of comprehension. In this paper I will provide a contextualized explication of the exchange. I will show that Carnap’s physicalism was deeply rooted in the psychophysical tradition that also informed Gestalt psychological research. By failing to acknowledge this, Carnap missed out on the possibility to enter into a serious debate and to forge an alliance with a like-minded psychologist at the time. I conclude by suggesting that the kind of physicalism practiced by Gestalt psychologists deserves to be taken seriously by current philosophy of psychology.