The locked-in syndrome and the behaviorist epistemology of other minds

Theoretical Medicine 12 (March):69-79 (1991)
In this paper, the problem of correct ascriptions of consciousness to patients in neurological intensive care medicine is explored as a special case of the general philosophical other minds problem. It is argued that although clinical ascriptions of consciousness and coma are mostly based on behavioral evidence, a behaviorist epistemology of other minds is not likely to succeed. To illustrate this, the so-called total locked-in syndrome, in which preserved consciousness is combined with a total loss of motor abilities due to a lower ventral brain stem lesion, is presented as a touchstone for behaviorism. It is argued that this example of consciousness without behavioral expression does not disprove behaviorism specifically, but rather illustrates the need for a non-verificationist theory of other minds. It is further argued that a folk version of such a theory already underlies our factual ascriptions of consciousness in clinical contexts. Finally, a non-behaviorist theory of other minds for patients with total locked-in syndrome is outlined.
Keywords Behaviorism  Comatose  Consciousness  Epistemology  Medicine
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

25 ( #120,994 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.