David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Think 5 (5):37-44 (2003)
The central claim of philosophical behaviourism is this: what it is to be in a certain state of mind is to be disposed to behave in a certain way. Most philosophers think that this claim is obviously false. They also think it is offensive. They think it is offensive because it appears to reduce or eliminate what is most valuable to us – our minds. It puts the notion of behaviour in the place of mind, and so removes what distinguishes us from automata. B. F. Skinner, one of the most famous (notorious) behaviourists, thought that behaviourism was a tool for social control, albeit a very liberal sort of control. He thought that by understanding how to condition people’s behaviour we would know how to achieve a better society.
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