Reply to Target Article: Inventing the Subject: The Renewal of “Psychological” Psychology

Journal of Anthropological Psychology 11 (2002).

It is an honor to be invited to respond to Daniel N. Robinson’s essay. Professor Robinson’s books and articles have, over many years, inspired and deeply influenced my own scholarly efforts. Although I work in political philosophy and the philosophy of law, rather than psychology and the philosophy of mind, Robinson’s reflections on the moral dimensions of the human and social sciences are no less fruitful in my field than in his own. Wherever the phenomena under review are constituted in significant part by human deliberation, judgment, and choice, Robinson’s insights illuminate the landscape.

Anyone who happens to be familiar with work I have done will not be surprised to learn that I find nothing of substance to disagree with in Professor Robinson’s article. Its numerous provocations are for others, not for me. The margins of my copy of his paper are decorated with “amens,” and even a few “hallelujahs!”

What to say, then?

This, perhaps. The shortcomings and defects Robinson finds rampant in academic psychology are no less widespread, and no less intellectually debilitating, in the fields in which I make my professional home. The considerations motivating his plea for a more “psychological” psychology militate with equal force in favor of a more “political” political science and a more “legal” jurisprudence. The intellectual reforms he demands in psychology are no less urgent in these sister disciplines.

Online: [pdf]
Article to which George is responding