Publication Details

Hutto, D. (2013). Psychology unified: From folk psychology to radical enactivism. Review of General Psychology, 17 (2), 174-178.


A properly radical enactivism—one that eschews the idea that all mentality is necessarily contentful and representational—has better prospects of unifying psychology than does traditional cognitivism. This paper offers a five-step argument in support of this claim. The first section advances the view that a principled way of characterizing psychology’s subject matter is what is required if it is to be regarded as a special science. In this light, section two examines why and how cognitivism continues to be regarded as the best potential unifier for the discipline. But the third section exposes a serious problem about the scope of cognitivism that occurs because it ascribes properties to basic minds that only belong to more sophisticated minds built atop them. In a nutshell, the root problem is that cognitivism relies on folk psychological models of mental states when it assumes that all mentality is contentful. Although this gives cognitivism its intuitive appeal, it also makes it too limited to provide a general model of the mind. Radical enactivism’s way of understanding mentality as embodied activity, it is argued, avoids this and provides a more appropriate means of understanding basic forms of mentality. Against the charge that radical enactivism is also limited in scope, the final section argues that it is inclusive enough to allow for and recognize the emergence of language-based folk psychological modes of mentality, thus making it the superior potential unifier for psychology



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