On the validity of Freud's dream interpretations

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (1):52-64 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this article I defend Freud’s method of dream interpretation against those who criticise it as involving a fallacy—namely, the reverse causal fallacy—and those who criticise it as permitting many interpretations, indeed any that the interpreter wants to put on the dream. The first criticism misconstrues the logic of the interpretative process: it does not involve an unjustified reversal of causal relations, but rather a legitimate attempt at an inference to the best explanation. The judgement of whether or not a particular interpretation is the best explanation depends on the details of the case in question. I outline the kinds of probabilities involved in making the judgement. My account also helps to cash out the metaphors of the jigsaw and crossword puzzles that Freudians have used in response to the ‘many interpretations’ objection. However, in defending Freud’s method of dream interpretation, I do not thereby defend his theory of dreams, which cannot be justified by his interpretations alone.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,122

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Freud and Rivers: A note on dream interpreation.J. P. Lowson - 1923 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):111 – 113.
The ghost of Sigmund Freud haunts mark solms's dream theory.J. Allan Hobson - 2000 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (6):951-952.
The Joke, the" As If", and the Statement'.Edmond Wright - 2000 - In M. Levine (ed.), The Analytic Freud. Routledge. pp. 294--311.
Interdisciplinary methodology: The case of Kitcher's Freud.M. Tjiattas - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32 (3):535-555.
Freud and Jung on religion.Michael Palmer - 1997 - New York: Routledge.
The riddle of dreams.Nadav Matalon - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (4):517 - 536.


Added to PP

93 (#174,639)

6 months
14 (#131,799)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Michael
Yonsei University

References found in this work

The Interpretation of Dreams.Sigmund Freud & A. A. Brill - 1900 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (20):551-555.
Paradoxes of Irrationality.Donald Davidson - 2004 - In Problems of rationality. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 169–187.
Epistemology and Depth Psychology.Jim Hopkins - 1988 - In C. Wright & P. Clark (eds.), Mind, Psychoanalysis, and Science. Blackwell.
Prediction and prejudice.Peter Lipton - 1990 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (1):51 – 65.
The theory of your dreams.Clark Glymour - 1983 - In Robert S. Cohen & Larry Laudan (eds.), Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: Essays in Honor of Adolf Grünbaum. D. Reidel. pp. 57--71.

View all 7 references / Add more references