Behaviorism revisited

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):977-978 (2002)
Abstract
O'Regan and Noe declare that the qualitative character of experience is constituted by the nature of the sensorimotor contingencies at play when we perceive. Sensorimotor contingencies are a highly restricted set of input-output relations. The restriction excludes contingencies that don’t essentially involve perceptual systems. Of course if the ‘sensory’ in ‘sensorimotor’ were to be understood mentalistically, the thesis would not be of much interest, so I assume that these contingencies are to be understood non-mentalistically. Contrary to their view, experience is a matter of what mediates between input and output, not input-output relations all by themselves. However, instead of mounting a head-on collision with their view, I think it will be more useful to consider a consequence of their view that admits of obvious counterexamples. The consequence consists of two claims: (1) any two systems that share that highly restricted set of input-output relations are therefor experientially the same and (2) conversely, any two systems that share experience must share these sensorimotor contingencies. Once stated, the view is so clearly wrong that my ascription of it to them might be challenged. At least it is a consequence of a major strand in their view. Perhaps this will be an opportunity for them to disassociate themselves from it. I will limit myself to (1)
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