Does functionalism offer an adequate account of cognitive psychology?

James M. Stedman, Thomas L. Spalding, Christina L. Gagné

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The majority of cognitive psychologists, when pressed, would hold for scientific realism as their philosophy of science and ontological position. However, it is functionalism which undergirds the ontology of scientific realism. Moreover, functionalists claim that cognitive psychology, including sensation, perception, memory, and the higher cognitive functions, can be fully accounted for by functionalism. The question is then: Is functionalism up to the task? Recently, Spalding and Gagné (2013) made the case that concept formation, a key element in all aspects of higher order cognition, can be better accounted for by an Aristotelian-Thomistic (A - T) meta-theory, and Stedman (2013) pointed out parallels between Aristotle's model and current cognitive psychology. This essay argues that the A - T viewpoint is a better model for all elements of cognitive psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-30
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Mind and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Aquinas
  • Aristotle
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Dualism
  • Functionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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