What has traditionally been labelled ‘Aristotle's theory of causes’ would be more intelligible if construed as ‘Aristotle's theory of explanations’, where the term ‘explanation’ has substantially the sense of Hempel and Oppenheim, who construe explanations as deductions. For Aristotle, specifying ‘causes’ is constructing demonstrations.
Behaviorism is belief that psychological states and traits are behavioral dispositions. This is normally interpreted by critics to mean that every person in state S is disposed to behave in way B. So interpreted, behaviorism is subject to the objection that there are spartans who feel pain but do not moan and groan. However, with few exceptions, behaviorists have not contended that everybody who is in a given state of mind necessarily behaves in the same obvious way. Instead, behaviorists have (...) typically contended only that being in one state of mind rather than another makes a discoverable difference to how one is disposed to behave. Thus, behaviorism does not require that spartans moan and groan when in pain. All it requires is that they behave differently when in pain than when not in pain. (shrink)
Philosophical critics standardly read behaviorism as a program for defining the concepts of folk psychology in equivalent behavioral terms. This is a misreading. Behaviorism is a program for getting rid of ill-defined mentalistic terms in favor of better defined behavioral idiom. In short, it is a program not for conceptual analysis but for verbal reform. Therefore, criticizing behaviorists for failing to define mentalistic concepts is like criticizing opponents of the Spanish Inquisition for failing to define witchcraft.
"Intentional behaviorism" is Gordon Foxall's name for his proposal to mix the oil of mentalist language with the water of empiricist behaviorism. The trouble is, oil and water don't mix. To remain scientific, the language of behavioral science must remain non-mental. Folk psychological ascriptions of belief and desire do not explain the patterns of behavior identified by behavior analysis; they merely describe these patterns in less scientific language. The underpinnings of these patterns, if not intentionality, must be sought in physiology, (...) particularly neurophysiology. Intentionality is an aspect of language, not the world. If we find it in the world, it is because we have put it there. (shrink)
City College of New York The hereditarian theory of race differences in IQ was briefly revived with the appearance of The Bell Curve but then quickly dismissed. The authors attempt a defense of it here, with an eye to conceptual and logical issues of special interests to philosophers, such as alleged infirmities in the heritability concept. At the same time, some relevant post-Bell Curve empirical data are introduced.
What are "private events" and what is their significance? The term is B. F. Skinner's, but the idea is much older. Before J. B. Watson challenged their methods and their metaphysics, virtually all psychologists assumed that the only way to discover a person's supposedly private states of mind was to ask her about them. Not a believer in minds, Skinner nevertheless agreed that sensations, feelings, and certain unspecified forms of "covert behavior" cannot be observed by others, because they take place (...) inside the body underneath the skin. Then he added that these inner events are of interest only to the physiologist; the concern of the behavior analyst is how intact organisms interact with their environment, not how their inward parts interact with each other. That compromise enabled Skinner to pursue behavior analysis in disregard of neurophysiology, which there was at the time no good way to study anyhow. But Skinner's talk of ineluctably private events was ill considered and ill conceived. There is no well understood sense in which people observe their own sensations, feelings, and "covert behavior," but if these take place inside the body, as it is reasonable to believe, the physiologist can observe them given the sophisticated new machines now available. And since these events inside the body vary with circumstances and influence behavior, the psychologist cannot afford to ignore what the physiologist has to say about them. Black box psychology is out of date. Though it is opaque, the skin is not an epistemological barrier. (shrink)
In his compact and erudite but lucid and skillfully argued volume, Hxplaining Postmodernism, Stephen Hicks traces the history of postmodernist commitment to relativistic nihilism from its origins in Kant and Rousseau up through Fichte and Heidegger to Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard and Rorty. That done, Hicks goes on to show how the anticapitalist left has responded to the spectacular failures of socialist practice and theory by abandoning the scientistic objectivism of Marx while embracing postmodernist irrationalism, multiculturalism, and extremist rhetoric. It is (...) a fine performance. (shrink)
Nor does the converse relation hold. Freedom does not insure facility, as the following case shows. Jones is free, any time he wishes, to press five hundred pounds. There is no law against it and nobody will object if he makes the attempt. Nevertheless, Jones, who weighs only a hundred pounds himself, is unable to lift fifty pounds, much less five hundred, and must fail if he tries. Again, the distinction is that between "may" and "can." Jones may lift five (...) hundred pounds; he can't. He has the prerogative but not the power; he has the right but not the strength. (shrink)
In his spirited "Faith and Goodness" (this issue), John Staddon says that my defense of B. F. Skinner's definition of the good—as what has the potential to reinforce desire for it—overlooks the fact that people sometimes desire the wrong things. Staddon appears to agree with G. E. Moore that the good should, rather, be equated with what is worthy of being desired, so ought to be desired, whether it ever is desired or not. But since there is no objective test (...) of worthiness, Moore's ought can only mean "I, and folk like me, desire that others desire what we desire that they desire."¹ When the talk is of values, there is no getting away from desires.². (shrink)
In an earlier essay in this journal, the estimable John Staddon charges B. F. Skinner and E. O. Wilson with committing several fallacies while promoting evolutionary ethics. The present essay replies that what Staddon regards as fallacies are signal contributions to a naturalistic understanding of ethical choice and language.