John D. Greenwood

John Greenwood faculty photo

Research Interests

  • History and philosophy of social and psychological science
  • history and philosophy of psychopathology
  • moral psychology


  • M.A. in Mental Philosophy from University of Edinburgh
  • D.Phil in Philosophy from University of Oxford

John D. Greenwood was born in Elgin, Scotland and educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford (DPhil). He taught at Kingston College, London, the National University of Singapore and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before joining the philosophy department at City College from 1988 to 2013, where he served as head of the department from 1995 to 2001. He was appointed to the doctoral faculty in philosophy at the Graduate Center in 1991, where he served as Executive Officer from 2002 to 2008.

His early work focused on the philosophy of social psychological science, resulting in journal publications in philosophy and psychology, and three monographs, Explanation and Experiment in Social Psychological Science (Springer-Verlag, 1989), Relations and Representations (Routledge, 1991) and Realism, Identity and Emotion: Reclaiming Social Psychology (Sage, 1994). Since the late nineteen nineties his research and teaching interests have refocused on the history of psychology, resulting in more journal articles, two monographs, The Disappearance of the Social in American Social Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and A Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web (2d. Ed., Cambridge University Press, 2015), and the presidency of the Society for the History Of Psychology (Division 26 of the American Psychological Association) in 2018. He is currently working on a monograph provisionally entitled A Conceptual History of Psychopathology, which traces historical continuities and discontinuities in the general conception of mental disorder, as well as the conception of particular disorders such as depression, mania, schizophrenia, and dissociative identity disorder.

While serving as visiting professor at the National University of Singapore in 1999-2000, Greenwood was inspired to write a historical novel about the first hundred years of Singapore. Half a million words later he found he had only covered the first fifty years, so he decided to turn the manuscript into three separate novels, which form the first three volumes of the Singapore Saga, published by Monsoon Books, which happily coincided with the bicentennial commemorations of the founding of Singapore in 2019. He is a regular visitor to the National University of Singapore, which he considers his second academic home.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Psychological Association
  • Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Southern Society of Philosophy and Psychology
  • Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable
  • Associate Editor: Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior

Courses Taught

  • Philosophy of Psychopathology
  • History of Psychology
  • Philosophy of Social Science
  • Moral Psychology
  • Personal Identity

Representative Publications

  • 2020: On two foundational principles of the Berlin school of Gestalt psychology. Review of General Psychology, 24, 284-294.
  • 2019: Social cognition, social neuroscience and evolutionary social psychology: What’s missing? Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 49, 1-18.
  • 2017: Solitary social belief. Synthese, 194, 2077-2099.
  • 2016: All the way up or all the way down?: Some historical reflections on theories of psychological continuity. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 130, 205-214.
  • 2014: The social in social psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 8/7, 303-313.
  • 2011: On the social dimensions of moral psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 41, 331-364.
  • 2010: Bells, whistles and cogs in machines: Thomas Huxley and epiphenomenalism. Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 46, 276-299.
  • 2007: Unnatural epistemology. Mind and Language, 22, 132-149.
  • 2004: What happened to the 'social’ in social psychology? Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 34,19-34.
  • 2003: Wundt, Völkerpsychologie, and experimental social psychology. History of Psychology, 6, 70-88.
  • 2003: Social facts, social groups and social explanation. Nous, 37, 93-112.
  • 1999: Understanding the 'cognitive revolution' in psychology. Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 35, 1-22.
  • 1999: Simulation, theory-theory, and cognitive penetration: no 'instance of the fingerpost'. Mind & Language, 14, 32-56.
  • 1996: Freud's 'tally' argument, placebo control treatments, and the evaluation of psychotherapy. Philosophy of Science, 63, 605-621.
  • 1990: Two dogmas of neo-empiricism: The theory-informity of observations and the Quine-Duhem thesis. Philosophy of Science, 57, 553-574.