Tag Archives: Philosophical psychology

NEW RESEARCH: Personality Dynamics, Motivation, & the Logic of Explanation

Boag, S. (2018). Personality dynamics, motivation, and the logic of explanation. Review of General Psychology. Online preprint. Please contact me if you would like a copy.


Dynamic personality approaches provide an important step forward for twenty-first century personality theories because they promise greater explanatory power compared with latent trait approaches. Nevertheless , whether dynamic personality theories satisfactorily address motivated action remains unclear. To address this, this article discusses the logic of explanation and problems with latent trait approaches in terms of circularity and reification. The article then assesses explanation within dynamic personality accounts and the putative role of motivation. While dynamic personality approaches avoid many of the problems associated with latent trait accounts, a satisfactory account of motivational systems and “human nature” is currently missing. Suggestions for addressing the dynamics of human nature in terms of criteria for motivational systems are discussed. Attachment theory is offered as one possible foundation for addressing the motivational dynamics of personality.

NEW RESEARCH: In defence of unconscious mentality

Boag, S. (2015). In defence of unconscious mentality. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, & V. Talvitie (Eds.), Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind (pp. 239-265). London: Karnac.

Download Boag 2015 Unconscious mentality


This chapter is a response to recent attacks upon the possibility of unconscious mentality and the use of Brentano’s claim that mental acts are necessarily conscious due to Intentionality. The chapter demonstrates that Brentano’s stance against unconscious mentality is an empirical claim and not a logical one. Against the claim that unconscious processes are simply non-cognitive neural processes, this chapter demonstrates that the conclusion that unconscious processes are simply neural processes follows from failing to distinguish between knowing and knowing that one knows. Specifically, the problem follows from reinstating the Cartesian fallacy which confuses consciousness of something with self-consciousness of it. This chapter discusses unconscious processes in terms of psychological relations involving brain processes but which are not reducible to them. Whether any event or process is conscious is unconscious is simply to describe certain relationships and not qualities of mental processes. The implications for the dynamic unconscious, as well as criticisms of the systemic view of unconscious mentality, are further discussed

NEW RESEARCH: Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind: unconscious mentality in the 21st century

Boag, S., Brakel, L. A. W., & Talvitie, V. (Eds). (2015). Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind: Unconscious Mentality in the 21st Century. London; Karnac.

This second volume follows our first (Philosophy, Science & Psychoanalysis) and critically examines the nature of unconscious mental processes and psychoanalytic explanation. The volume brings together Tamas Pataki, Jim Hopkins, Michael Levine, Linda, Vesa and me. Further information on the volume can be found here.

For a list of authors, papers, and introductory material see Psychoanalysis____Philosophy_of_Mind_2015.

NEW RESEARCH: Repression, defence, & the psychology of science

Boag, S. (2015). Repression, defence, & the psychology of science. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, and V. Talvitie (Eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Psychoanalysis (pp. 247-268). London: Karnac.

Boag 2015 Repression, defence, & the psychology of science download


In this chapter I propose that Freud’s theory of repression, broadly formulated, is essential for understanding the psychology of science. The possibility of self-deception and motivated ignoring in science is first discussed in the context of ‘turning a blind eye’, ‘blindness of the seeing eye’ and selective inattention. The relationship between human nature, unpleasure, and the aims of science is then addressed in the context of statistics, pathological science, and socially constructed blindness. Alfred Mele’s seminal work on self-deception is then considered and I propose that some account of Freudian repression appears to be required to satisfactorily account for selective inattention in self-deception. While determining whether any given scientist is engaging in self-deception is not easily determined, the in principle possibility of self-deception in science, is a serious concern for the discipline to acknowledge.