Ned Block ((1981). Psychologism and behaviorism. Philosophical Review, 90, 5-43.) argued that a behaviorist conception of intelligence is mistaken, and that the nature of an agent's internal processes is relevant for determining whether the agent has intelligence. He did that by describing a machine which lacks intelligence, yet can answer questions put to it as an intelligent person would. The nature of his machine's internal processes, he concluded, is relevant for determining that it lacks intelligence. I argue against (...) Block that it is not the nature of its processes but of its linguistic behavior which is responsible for his machine's lack of intelligence. As I show, not only has Block failed to establish that the nature of internal processes is conceptually relevant for psychology, in fact his machine example actually supports some version of behaviorism. As Wittgenstein has maintained, as far as psychology is concerned, there may be chaos inside. (shrink)
The Philosophical Legacy of Behaviorism is the first book to describe the unique contributions of a behavioral perspective to the major issues of philosophy. Leading behavioral philosophers and psychologists have contributed chapters on: the origins of behaviorism as a philosophy of science; the basic principles of behaviorism; ontology; epistemology; values and ethics; free will, determinism and self-control; and language and verbal behavior. A concluding chapter provides an overview of some scholarly criticisms of behavioral philosophy. Far from espousing (...) a `black box' perspective on human cognition and philosophical reasoning, behaviorism (as derived from the works of B. F. Skinner) represents a contemporary and viable approach to conceptualizing important philosophical and psychological issues. Audience: This work will make an excellent text for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in the fields of philosophy and psychology, as well as being of interest to established scholars in those disciplines. (shrink)
This paper aims to do three things: First, to provide a review of John Staddon's book Adaptive dynamics: The theoretical analysis of behavior. Second, to compare Staddon's behaviorist view with current ideas on embodied cognition. Third, to use this comparison to explicate some outlines for a theoretical analysis of behavior that could be useful as a behavioral foundation for cognitive phenomena. Staddon earlier defended a theoretical behaviorism, which allows internal states in its models but keeps these to a minimum (...) while remaining critical of any cognitive interpretation. In his latest book, Adaptive dynamics, he provides an overview and analysis of an extensive number of these current, behaviorist models. Theoretical behaviorism comes close to the view of embodied cognition, which also stresses the importance of behavior in contrast to high-level cognition. A detailed picture of the overlaps and differences between the two approaches will be sketched by comparing the two on four separate issues: the conceptualization of behavior, loopy structures, parsimonious explanations, and cognitive behavior. The paper will stress the need for a structural analysis of behavior to gain a better understanding of both behavior and cognition. However, for this purpose, we will need behavioral science rather than behaviorism. (shrink)
Some of Quine’s critics charge that he arrives at a behavioristic account of linguistic meaning by starting from inappropriately behavioristic assumptions (Kripke 1982, 14; Searle 1987, 123). Quine has even written that this account of linguistic meaning is a consequence of his behaviorism (Quine 1992, 37). I take it that the above charges amount to the assertion that Quine assumes the denial of one or more of the following claims: (1) Language-users associate mental ideas with their linguistic expressions. (2) (...) A language-user can have a private theory of linguistic meaning which guides his or her use of language. (3) Language learning relies on innate mechanisms. Call an antecedent denial of one or more of these claims illicit behaviorism. In this paper I show that Quine is prepared to grant, if only for the sake of argument, all three of the above claims. I argue that his claim that there is nothing in linguistic meaning beyond what is to be gleaned from overt behavior in observable circumstances is unscathed by these allowances (Quine 1992, 38). And I show that the behaviorism which Quine does assume should be viewed as a largely uncontroversial aspect of his evidential empiricism. I conclude that if one sets out to dismiss Quine’s arguments for internal-meaning skepticism, this dismissal should not be motivated by the charge that his conclusions rely on the illicitly behavioristic assumptions that some have suggested that they do. (shrink)
Behaviorism and mentalism are commonly considered to be mutually exclusive and conjunctively exhaustive options for the psychological explanation of behavior. Behaviorism and mentalism do differ in their characterization of inner causes of behavior. However, I argue that they are not mutually exclusive on the grounds that they share important foundational assumptions, two of which are the notion of an innerouter split and the notion of control. I go on to argue that mentalism and behaviorism are not conjunctively (...) exhaustive either, on the grounds that dropping these common foundational assumptions results in a distinctively different framework for the explanation of behavior. This third alternative, which is briefly described, is a version of non-individualism. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Skinner has repeatedly asserted that he does not deny either the existence of private events or the possibility of studying them scientifically. But he has never explained how his position in this respect differs from that of the mentalist or provided a practical methodology for the investigation of private events within a radical behaviorist perspective. With respect to the first of these deficiencies, I argue that observation statements describing a public state of affairs in the common public environment of two (...) or more observers which those observers confirm as a correct description provide a far more objective and secure foundation for empirical knowledge than statements describing private events in the experience of a single individual. In the course of this argument, I also invoke Wittgenstein's (1953) demonstration — his 'private language argument' — of the incoherence of traditional subjective empiricism. Regarding the second deficiency, I argue that observation statements describing private events can serve as data for an objective study, provided that (a) the verbal behavior in which they consist and its context are objectively observed and recorded, and (b) an explanation is given of how this verbal behavior is generated by the events it reports. (shrink)
For the past three decades linguistic theory has been based on the assumption that sentences are interpreted and constructed by the brain by means of computational processes analogous to those of a serial-digital computer. The recent interest in devices based on the neural network or parallel distributed processor (PDP) principle raises the possibility ("eliminative connectionism") that such devices may ultimately replace the S-D computer as the model for the interpretation and generation of language by the brain. An analysis of the (...) differences between the two models suggests that the effect of such a development would be to steer linguistic theory towards a return to the empiricism and behaviorism which prevailed before it was driven by Chomsky towards nativism and mentalism. Linguists, however, will not be persuaded to return to such a theory unless and until it can deal with the phenomenon of novel sentence construction as effectively as its nativist/mentalist rival. (shrink)
Roughly, behaviorist accounts of self-knowledge hold that first persons acquire knowledge of their own minds in just the same way other persons do: by means of behavioral evidence. One obvious problem for such accounts is that the fail to explain the great asymmetry between the authority of first person as opposed to other person attributions of thoughts and other mental states and events. Another is that the means of acquisition seems so different: other persons must infer my mental contents from (...) my behavior, whereas I need not. In this paper, I articulate a specifically Sellarsian behavioristic account of our knowledge of our own and others’ minds, and defend it against these two obvious objections. I further defend it against objections from Davidson, to the effect that Sellars’ account in particular cannot properly formulate the asymmetry at issue, and that behaviorism in general cannot account for the a priori character of the asymmetry. I argue that Davidson misinterprets Sellars at key points, and also misconstrues his own explanandum: What Sellars account can explain is an asymmetry in the reliability of first and other person attributions, but this asymmetry is not a priori. What is a priori is an asymmetry in the practice of according epistemic authority to such attributions. I argue that this asymmetry is what Davidson can and does explain, by appeal to the constitutive features of radical interpretation. But accepting this explanation does not require the rejection of Sellars’ account of the way that first and other persons in fact arrive at beliefs about their mental contents. The two approaches — one descriptive and empirical, the other constitutive and ideal — are compatible. (shrink)
Sellars’ verbal behaviorism demands that linguistic episodes be conceptual in an underivative sense and his theoretical mentalism that thoughts as postulated theoretical entities be modelled on linguistic behaviors. Marras has contended that Sellars’ own methodology requires that semantic categories be theoretical. Thus linguistic behaviors can be conceptual in only a derivative sense. Further he claims that overt linguistic behaviors cannot serve as a model for all thought because thought is primarily symbolic. I support verbal behaviorism by showing that (...) semantic categories are in the first instance teleological explanatory categories and consequently can be observational. And I show how theoretical mentalism can be maintained even though thought is primarily symbolic. (shrink)
Beyond Behaviorism explores and contrasts means and ends psychology with conventional psychology -- that of stimuli and response. The author develops this comparison by exploring the general nature of psychological phenomena and clarifying many persistent doubts about psychology. Dr. Lee contrasts conventional psychology (stimuli and responses) involving reductionistic, organocentric, and mechanistic metatheory with alternative psychology (means and ends) that is autonomous, contextual, and evolutionary.
Let psychologism be the doctrine that whether behavior is intelligent behavior depends on the character of the internal information processing that produces it. More specifically, I mean psychologism to involve the doctrine that two systems could have actual and potential behavior _typical_ of familiar intelligent beings, that the two systems could be exactly alike in their actual and potential behavior, and in their behavioral dispositions and capacities and counterfactual behavioral properties (i.e., what behaviors, behavioral dispositions, and behavioral capacities they would (...) have exhibited had their stimuli differed)--the two systems could be alike in all these ways, yet there could be a difference in the information processing that mediates their stimuli and responses that determines that one is not at all intelligent while the other is fully intelligent. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that certain stimulus-response learning models which are adequate to represent finite automata (acceptors) are not adequate to represent noninitial state input-output automata (transducers). This circumstance suggests the question whether or not the behavior of animals if satisfactorily modelled by automata is predictive. It is argued in partial answer that there are automata which can be explained in the sense that their transition and output functions can be described (roughly, Hempel-type covering law explanation) while their (...) behaviors are in principle not predictable short of possession of their complete histories or of information concerning present internal states by indirect observation. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship among behaviorism, constructivism and Socratic pedagogy. Specifically, it asks if a Socratic educator can be a constructivist or a behaviorist. In the first part of the paper, each learning theory, as it relates to the Socratic project, is explained. In the last section, the question of whether or not a Socratic teacher can subscribe to a constructivist or a behaviorist learning theory is addressed. The paper concludes by stating that while Socratic pedagogy shares some (...) similarities with each learning theory, ultimately it is fundamentally incompatible with both. (shrink)
The evolution of behaviorism from its explicit beginning with John B. Watson's declaration in 1913 to the behaviorisms of the present is considered briefly. Contributions of behaviorism to scientific psychology then and now are critically assessed, arriving at the conclusion that regardless of whether or not its opponents and proponents are aware, the essential points of behaviorism have now been absorbed into all of scientific psychology. It will assist the progress of the science of psychology if its (...) focus now shifts away from incessant relivings of outdated argumentation to empirical discovery and theory construction based on those discoveries. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that influential arguments of Jacques Derridas's and Judith Butler's rely on behaviorism and relativism, a reliance which has implications for, among other things, the issue of hate speech. I begin with a brief discussion of the philosophy of W. V. O. Quine, a thinker seldom discussed in relationship to continental poststructuralism. Quine is interesting because he explicitly defends an ontological relativism combined with linguistic behaviorism, the latter as influenced by B. F. Skinner and (...) John Watson. I then show that Butler's and Derrida's theories demonstrate a similar yet unacknowledged lineage. I devote the final section of the paper to a discussion of hate speech, and the problematization of behaviorism and relativism it entails. Key Words: behaviorism Judith Butler Jacques Derrida hate speech poststructuralism W. V. O. Quine. (shrink)
In Cambridge History of Philosophy, 18701945, ed. by Thomas Baldwin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 640648. Key words: behaviorism, neobehaviorism, Watson, Singer, Holt, Perry, Tolman, Hull, Skinner.
B. F. Skinner's claim that "operant behavior is essentially the field of purpose" is systematically explored. It is argued that Charles Taylor's illuminating analysis of the explanatory significance of common-sense goal-ascriptions (1) lends some (fairly restricted) support to Skinner's claim, (2) considerably clarifies the conceptual significance of differences between operant and respondent behavior and conditioning, and (3) undercuts influential assertions (e.g., Taylor's) that research programs for behavioristic psychology share a "mechanistic" orientation. A strategy is suggested for assessing the plausibility of (...) Skinner's broader claims about the adequacy of the operant behaviorist program for the analysis of purposive behavior. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to describe some limitations on scientific behaviorist and computational models of the mind. These limitations stem from the inability of either model to account for the integration of experience and behavior. Behaviorism fails to give an adequate account of felt experience, whereas the computational model cannot account for the integration of our behavior with the world. Both approaches attempt to deal with their limitations by denying that the domain outside their limits is a (...) part of psychology. These attempts to turn the shortcomings of the two models into virtues would be more convincing if their limitations were not diametrically opposed. I will argue that in each case the limitations are too restrictive unless the theories are augmented by physiology. (shrink)
Rachlin's idea that altruism, like self-control, is a valuable, temporally extended pattern of behavior, suggests one way of addressing common problems in developing a rational choice explanation of individual altruistic behavior. However, the form of Rachlin's explicitly behaviorist account of altruistic acts suffers from two faults, one of which questions the feasibility of his particular behaviorist analysis.
Heyes's attempt to reinterpret research on primate cognition from the standpoint of radical behaviorism is strong on dialogue and debate but weak on evidence. Recent evidence concerning self-recognition, for example, shows that her arguments about differential recovery from anesthetization and species differences in face touching as alternative accounts of the behavior of primates in the presence of mirrors) are invalid.