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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 34, 59-70 (2006). ARE CURRENT PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES OF CONSCIOUSNESS USEFUL TO NEUROSCIENTISTS? Philip R. Sullivan.
Two radically different families of theory currently compete for acceptance among theorists of human consciousness. The majority of theorists believe that the human brain somehow causes consciousness, but a significant minority holds that how the brain would cause this property is not only currently incomprehensible, but unlikely to become comprehensible despite continuing advances in brain science. Some of these latter theorists hold an alternate view that consciousness may well be one of the fundamentals in nature, and that the extremely complex functional systems of the human brain inform this basic property, giving rise to our specifically human variety thereof. If these contesting families of theory are to be useful to neuroscientists, testable notions flowing from these theories need to be developed.
Basic Research , Neuroscience , Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 34, 71-87 (2006). OF WHAT VALUE IS PHILOSOPHY TO SCIENCE? A REVIEW OF MAX R. BENNETT AND P. M. S. HACKER'S PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF NEUROSCIENCE (MALDEN, MA: BLACKWELL, 2003), Jose E. Burgos & John W. Donahoe.
The book Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003) is an engaging criticism of cognitive neuroscience from the perspective of a Wittgensteinian philosophy of ordinary language. The authors' main claim is that assertions like "the brain sees" and "the left hemisphere thinks" are integral to cognitive neuroscience but that they are meaningless because they commit the mereological fallacy-ascribing to parts of humans, properties that make sense to predicate only of whole humans. The authors claim that this fallacy is at the heart of Cartesian dualism, implying that current cognitive neuroscientists are Cartesian dualists. Against this claim, we argue that the fallacy cannot be committed within Cartesian dualism either, for this doctrine does not allow for an intelligible way of asserting that a soul is part of a human being. Also, the authors' Aristotelian essentialistic outlook is at odds with their Wittgensteinian stance, and we were unconvinced by their case against explanatory reductionism.
Basic Research , Neuroscience , Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 34, 89-107 (2006). CLASSIC ETHOLOGY REAPPRAISED, Rodrigo de Sa-Nogueira Saraiva.
I analyze the theoretical tenets of early ethology and the criticisms leveled against it from comparative psychology. Early ethology had a clear research object, the study of behavioral adaptedness. Adaptedness was explained by the functional rules and programs that underlie the relation between a given organism and its natural environment (the function cycle). This research object was lost during the redefinition of ethology that took place after the Second World War, a redefinition that led to an emphasis on physiological and evolutionary explanations instead of functional ones. This loss happened because early ethologists did not make their aims sufficiently clear and because of fundamental epistemological and semantic misunderstandings between ethologists and comparative psychologists. I argue that the behavioral explanation of adaptedness is different from both physiological and ecological research and that it needs functional concepts similar to the ones of early ethology. I defend the idea o
Basic Research , Neuroscience , Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 34, 109-121 (2006). HUMAN BEHAVIOR AS LANGUAGE: SOME THOUGHTS ON WITTGENSTEIN, Emilio Ribes-Inesta.
Language has been traditionally considered as a special psychological or behavioral phenomenon, with a logical status similar to other phenomena such as learning, memory, and thinking. Based on Wittgenstein's notion of language game, I argue that language is not limited to a psychological phenomenon, but rather it constitutes the functional dimensions under which human behavior develops and becomes meaningful. I propose three dimensions of language relevant to human behavior: a) as a medium, b) as an instrument, and c) as a form of life.
Basic Research , Neuroscience , Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, vii-ix (2005). EDITORIAL, Armando Machado.
An important role of the philosophy of science is to invite scientists to analyze their tacit networks. In the process, ambiguity may be exposed, missing steps in arguments identified, and unwarranted assumptions revealed. Attempts to solve these problems and improve the network can then take place.
Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 1-16 (2005). THE FUNCTIONS OF INTENTIONAL EXPLANATIONS OF ACTIONS, Erik Weber & Robrecht Vanderbeeken.
This paper deals with the functions of intentional explanations of actions (IEAs), i.e., explanations that refer to intentional states (beliefs, desires, etc.) of the agent. IEAs can have different formats. We consider these different formats to be instruments that enable the explainer to capture different kinds of information. We pick out two specific formats, i.e. contrastive and descriptive, which will enable us to discuss the functions of IEAs. In many cases the explanation is contrastive, i.e. it makes use of one or more contrasts between real intentional states and ideal intentional states (ideal from the point of view of the explainer). In many other cases IEAs have a descriptive (covering-law) format. The aim of this paper is to analyze the functions the two kinds of explanations can have. We will show that certain functions are better served by one rather than the other format. This leads to pluralism with respect to formats. We argue that both formats are necessary and that their function
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 17-40 (2005). THE REFLEXIVE THEORY OF PERCEPTION, John Dilworth.
The Reflexive Theory of Perception (RTP) claims that perception of an object or property X by an organism Z consists in Z being caused by X to acquire some disposition D toward X itself. This broadly behavioral perceptual theory explains perceptual intentionality and correct versus incorrect, plus successful versus unsuccessful, perception in a plausible evolutionary framework. The theory also undermines cognitive and perceptual modularity assumptions, including informational or purely epistemic views of perception in that, according to the RTP, any X-caused and X-directed dispositions are genuinely perceptual-including affective, attitudinal, and immediately activated purely action-directed behavioral dispositions. Thus the RTP has the potential to provide the foundations for a broadly behavioral counter-revolution in cognitive science.
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 41-54 (2005). WHAT MULLER'S LAW OF SPECIFIC NERVE ENERGIES SAYS ABOUT THE MIND, Howard Rachlin.
Johannes Muller's law of specific nerve energies (LOSNE) states that the mind has access not to objects in the world but only to our nerves. This law implies that the contents of the mind have no qualities in common with environmental objects but serve only as arbitrary signs or markers of those objects. The present article traces the implications of LOSNE for non-physical theories of mind and for modern neural identity theory (that mental events are identical with their neurological representations) and argues that these theories are essentially inconsistent with LOSNE. Teleological behaviorism, a behavioral identity theory of the mind, identifies a person's mind with the correlation over time between that person's overt behavior and environmental objects; this behavioral conception is consistent with a revised form of LOSNE in which the mind is conceived to exist not within the body but at the borderline between the body and the world.
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 55-65 (2005). ANTIREALIST ARGUMENTS IN BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS. F. Tonneau.
Some operant theorists have argued that the most fundamental concepts of behavior analysis have antirealist implications: for example, that stimuli have no physical properties, that we have no epistemic access to a physical world, that the world exists only in behavior, and that we are locked in our behavior. In this article, I show that such beliefs do not derive from behavior analysis. In particular, the concepts of stimulus and response employed in behavior analysis have no antirealist implications. Putative proofs to the contrary are seriously confused.
Basic Research , Neuroscience , Philosophy/History
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PDF Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 67-79 (2005). BEHAVIORAL PRAGMATISM IS A-ONTOLOGICAL, NOT ANTIREALIST: A REPLY TO TONNEAU, Dermot Barnes-Holmes.
Tonneau attributes an antirealist position to my writing. In my reply I argue that my position is not antirealist, but a-ontological. I subsequently consider the implications of Tonneau's core arguments in light of my a-ontological position and find that his claims do not apply to my work. Finally, I suggest an a-ontological approach to the realism controversy.
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