Working Papers

The papers on this page are works in progress, so please do not cite them without permission. I post them here primarily because I am eager for feedback on my thoughts as they develop. They are very much in development.

Papers in Progress

“Loves Slaves and Wonder Women: Radical Feminism and Social Reform in the Psychology of William Moulton Marston”

In contemporary histories of psychology, William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) is sometimes remembered for helping develop the lie detector test. He is better remembered in  history of popular culture for creating the comic book superhero Wonder Woman. In his time, however, he was a significant psychologist and public figure, contributing to research in deception, basic emotions, abnormal psychology, sexuality, and consciousness. He was also a radical though unorthodox feminist with deep connections to women’s rights movements. Marston’s work is instructive in several ways for philosophers of science, particularly on the question of the relation between science and values. Although Marston’s case provides further evidence of the beneficial role that feminist values can play in scientific work, nevertheless, it poses challenges to philosophical accounts of value-laden science. Marston’s feminist values allow him to identify weaknesses in the research of other psychologists, and they allow him to posit psychological concepts that avoid reifying social stereotypes; this aspect of his work exemplifies earlier views about feminist value-laden research. His scientific work also implies *normative* conclusions about psycho-emotional health for individuals and society, a direction of influence that is relatively under-theorized in the literature. Furthermore, Marston makes use of the popular press as an unusual venue of the  *application* of his scientific research as well as the advocacy of his radical values. To understand and evaluate Marston’s work requires an approach that treats science and values as mutually influencing; it also requires that we understand the relationship between science advising and political advocacy in value-laden science.

“Cognition as Situational Problem Solving: John Dewey Meets Jean Lave”

For John Dewey and Jean Lave, the concept “situation” figures prominently in their theories of cognition. In comparing Lave’s work on situated learning and cognition with John Dewey’s situational theory of thinking and inquiry and his anti-Cartesian theory of mind, I show that there is a fruitful convergence and complementarity between these two major theorists of mind, culture, and activity. Their work shows that “situation” remains an important way of thinking about cognition in ecological and cultural context.

“Dewey’s Situational Theory of Science”

The main goal of this paper is to provide a satisfactory interpretation of John Dewey’s concept of “situation,” which plays a central role in his theory of inquiry and thus his philosophy of science. The secondary goal is to show the consequences of Dewey’s situationism for his theory of science. The paper needs some work, and perhaps to go in a somewhat different direction, focusing more on “situation” as a contested idea in Dewey scholarship.

“A Centennial Retrospective of John Dewey’s ‘The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy'”

In 1909, the 50th anniversary of both the publication of Origin of the Species and his own birth, John Dewey published “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy.”  This optimistic essay saw Darwin’s advance not only as one of empirical or theoretical biology, but a logical and conceptual revolution that would shake every corner of philosophy. Dewey tells us less about the influence that Darwin exerted over philosophy over the past 50 years and instead prophesied the influence it would (or should) take in the future.  I will discuss this landmark paper and the key lessons Dewey draws from Darwinism for philosophy, and give a preliminary assessment of how well we’ve done so far.  (Dewey would be largely disappointed.)

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