11 – Alternatives to behaviourism Flashcards Preview

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In what respect is the notion that cognition is unobservable a Cartesian notion?

Descartes originated the idea that there is mental stuff internal to the individual, which is what you know directly. This is the 'Cartesian theatre of the mind', through which you know the external world indirectly. This theatre – the cognitions – is observable only to you.


Why did behaviourism fail?

Great difficulty accounting for results of experiments without introducing a cognitive concept – without invoking terms such as ‘expectancy’ or ‘anticipation’ or some other internal mediating concept. Appeared as though rats and mice ARE using cognition.


What is the mind-brain identity theory?

That the mind is the brain. Anything mental reduces to the brain and cognition is a purely neural phenomenon.


What is the evidence for the mind-brain identity theory?

We observe regular correlations between 'mental' occurrences and neurological goings-on.


The suggestion that the mental is the physical is a form of _____________ism.

The suggestion that the mental is the physical is a form of reductionism.


What is the Cartesian response to the association between mental and neurological events that underpins the mind-brain identity theory?

The correlation is based on causal interactions between minds and brains. Trouble is, this interaction isn't possible without collapsing the original dualism – where does this interaction take place?


What coincided with the rise of the mind-brain identity theory in the 1970s?

The development of computers. The cognising human was thought of as a computer composed of neural tissue.


If mental processes are identical with neural processes, then in principle we should be able to know another's cognitions by what means?

By direct observation of their neural processes – reading off their neural code.


What problem with intentionality arises from the mind-brain hypothesis?

Mental events are always about something outside themselves. E.g. if thinking about Sydney Opera House, how can neural events be about something outside my head? Hence idea of representation.


How does concept of representation solve the intentionality conundrum arising from the mind-brain hypothesis?

If thinking happens only in the brain, then any object of thought located outside the brain (e.g. Sydney Opera House) must be represented inside the brain. There must be some pattern of neural activity which represents the Opera House.


Why is the neural coding hypothesis no more than a verbal solution?

Because we have found no mechanism whereby this occurs.


What is a code?

A set of conventions enabling messages to be transmitted from a source to a destination.


What two sets of terms does a code consist of?

1. The set of symbols
2. The set of things signified by those symbols


What three things are necessary in order for coding to be successful? (Using example of word 'green')

1. We must know the word itself (say, know the word 'green' as a pattern of sounds or as a pattern of marks).

2. We must know the kind of thing denoted (say, know the colour green).

3. We must know that this word (green) is used to refer to this kind of colour (green).

If any of these is missing, coding is not achieved.


In what way is coding a cognitive concept?

Because coding requires knowledge – of signifier, signified and the link between them.


In what way is the idea of cognitive representation a circular argument?

Cognitive representation attempts to explain an aspect of cognition – how we can think of things outside our brains – but requires cognition, knowledge of a neural code, in its explanation. The argument assumes the very thing it is attempting to explain.


What's the difference between neural coding and neural sensitivity?

Neural sensitivity – the brain's differential response to each discernable difference in the environment.

Neural coding – information about the environment being encoded in the brain.


What is the redundancy of the neural coding hypothesis?

For the neural coding hypothesis to work, I would need to know these three things:

1. the symbol – in this case the relevant neural state (call it G);
2. the signified – in this case, the colour green; and
3. the fact that this symbol (neural state G) refers to this colour (green).

However, if I am required to already know 2 above (i.e., the colour green) in order for the coding hypothesis to work, then the coding hypothesis is redundant, for I must already know the very thing that it was introduced to account for. Thus, if the coding hypothesis is true, it is redundant. It assumes the knowledge it was constructed to explain and so it serves no genuine explanatory purpose.


Is reference a property of signs?

No. Reference is a three-termed relation – I, the sign, the signified.


What are the three terms in the relation of Reference?

The subject, the sign, the signified.


For neural states to refer to environmental features – in line with representational theory – what else is required?

Something else – a third term – that knew both separately.


In what way does a representational theory of brain states involve an infinite regress?

For a brain state to represent an environmental situation, there must be knowledge of this semantic relation. Knowledge of this semantic relation requires cognition, which – in representational theory – also requires representation, which in turn requires cognition.


How does a direct realist conceptualise perception? (3 terms)

Perception is a relation between living organisms and situations in their environments.

1. The relevant environmental situation (i.e., for example, this tree’s being green);

2. The physical, causal processes whereby this environmental situation acts upon the relevant sensory neural system (i.e., the reflection of radiant energy of various wavelengths from the green tree and its effects upon your retinas, optic nerves, etc.); and

3. The resulting brain state, a state that is differentially sensitive to this environmental situation (i.e., had that situation been different in any discernable way, then the resulting brain state would have been likewise different).


In what way does representational theory violate the logic of relations?

The relation between knower and mental representation is internal to the knower. And the relation of ofness is also internal to the knower. Both these instances violate the logic of relations. You can’t have relations internal to the terms that stand in those relations.