Every project of scientific psychology faces at least two challenges. The first challenge appears when a proposal of psychology tries to follow the standard of modern science. In this case, it is necessary to make the psychological phenomena objective, what is done, most frequently, by means of its translation into physiological terms. In consequence, the specificity of psychology becomes threatened by physiological reductionism. The second challenge appears when a project of psychology tries to avoid the physiological reductionism by means of defending the irreducible and subjective nature of psychological phenomena. In fact, this kind of mentalism limits the application of scientific method. This essay intends to show how E. C. Tolman's project of scientific psychology could be an alternative for those challenges. In first place, we show that Tolman keeps himself away from the physiological reductionism in virtue of his molar conception of behavior. Next, we analyze some difficulties of his proposal, especially the limitations of a realistic epistemology. Finally, we present Tolman's proposal for surmounting such difficulties: the analogy of scientific theories considered as maps, which reveals his mature instrumentalist epistemology.
Tolman; Behavior; Maps; Physiological reductionism; Mentalism