Note by , created almost 6 years ago

A-Level Philosophy (Philosophy of the Mind ) Note on Behaviourism , created by lucy-hook on 01/15/2014.

Created by lucy-hook almost 6 years ago
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Logical Behaviourism 

The reduction of mental properties to physical or behavioural properties Removes the Cartesian dualism of mind and body To talk of thoughts is to misuse the word thought. 'Thoughts' do not exist as a substance - they are simply expressions of behaviourAny statement about the internal may be translated into a statement about publicly observable actions.

Mental Privacy:Descartes argues that an individual's mind is private and that the meaning of thought is private. Behaviourists disagree - arguing that the meaning of even the most private emotion is potentially observable - and therefore public. 

Logical Behaviourism stemmed from Logical Positivism - a belief that the meaning of a statement established by its method of verification. If there is no possible method of verification then the statement is not a fact and may be meaningless. If mental states are private there is no way of verifying them.

Wittgenstein's Beetle:Imagine - everyone has a small box in which they keep a beetle. However, no one is allowed to look in anyone else's box, only their own. The word "beetle" over time becomes to mean what is in everyone's box. The beetle is like an individual's mind. No one can know anyone else's mind but it is generally assumed that the mental workings of other people's mind are very similar to our own. The word beetle - as we have no way of verifying what it really means simply means "what is in the box".In this way the mind is simply "what is in your head". Therefore to say there must be a special mental entity called a mind that makes our experiences private is wrong. This is partly as language has meaning through public usage. The word mind/beetle was given a definition through conversation and can therefore only ever mean just "what is in your head", not some mental substance that no one is sure exists. 

Ryle's Category Mistakes:Since mind can only mean "what it is like to be me" - it is a distortion of language to make it mean "a distinct mental substance" - as Descartes attempts. 

The more private the experience the more difficult it is to account for it in behavioural terms - e.g. when talking about "having a picture in my mind". 

Variations of reactions:A situation can evoke different reactions in different people. If we cannot predict how someone will react in a certain situation, then how can we be certain that they are just responding to stimuli and not actually thinking and choosing with a private Cartesian self? 

Problems with Logical Behaviourism 

Issue with the clarity of the concepts of response and stimulus:It is too difficult to suggest a definite one-to-one relationship between the stimulus and the response, as it is possible to react in any number of ways to a certain stimulus. This suggests that perhaps there must be some other reason for people to act in a certain way... perhaps a conscious thinking entity called a "mind". 

Putnam's "super-spartans":A community (X-World) in which all adults have successfully adapted to suppress all involuntary pain-behaviour. They do not even report their pain or admit to having pain. According to behaviourism, which claims that pains are 'logical constructs of behaviour', then the X-worlders should have no pain, but they do. 

Logical Behaviourism

Problems with Logical Behaviourism