Is There a Functionalist Psychology?

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1993, Vol 38(12), 1318–1319. Reviews the book, Progress in Modern Psychology: The Legacy of American Functionalism edited by D. Alfred Owens and Mark Wagner (see record 1992-98913-000). This book does three things. It offers tribute to an outstanding teacher of psychology, Paul Leroy Whitely, it collects articles representing a cross-section of current psychological research and theory, and it claims that functionalism is alive, well, and still contributing to “progress in modern psychology.” A reservation occasioned for Tolman by this book is that it, along with so much writing on the history of American psychology, perpetuates the myth of functionalist psychology. Generally, the myth states that such a psychology can and does exist, distinct from structuralist psychology. Its more specific claims are that there is some kind of integral intellecal tradition stretching from James and Dewey to Carr, Woodworth, and beyond and that this tradition is marked by its devotion to evolutionary principles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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