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Flashcards in Materialism Deck (20)
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What is materialism?

The belief that all there is to know can be explained by the material world and processes in it


What is physicalism?

The view all there is to know is physical or explained in the terms of the physical world


What is reductive physicalism?

The belief all things in the world can be explained through physical explanations.


Outline logical behaviourism

Behaviourists reduce mental states to behaviour through analytic reduction.


What is analytic reduction?

A form of reduction that reduces ideas to having the same meaning


What is logical behaviourism?

By explaining mental states in how people act in certain situations, we can dispose of mental talk.

Mental states is reduced to the physical world where actions aren’t mysterious.


Outline Hempel’s Hard Behaviourism

He believed that all talk of the mind could be reduced to talk of behaviour.

Any talk of mental processes are people’s way of saying “he will act in this way...”


Outline Ryle’s Soft Behaviourism

Similar to Hempel, but said mental states are used to describe dispositions to behave in certain ways.

People may not always behave the same way from similar stimuli, but will have the disposition to do so.


How could you define a disposition?

A disposition is what you would tend to do in a situation, all your possible reactions.


The problem of agency for Hard Behaviourism ?

When we talk about behaviour we talk about agency.

E.G. Robin kicked the ball

When considered, it implies an inner decision that is not reducible to behaviour, making a decision is an inner process.

HB should talk of mental states in a way that only refers to behaviour.

E.G. John’s arm lifted up - can refer to any behaviour.

This shows we cannot fully explain what it is to have a mental state through only behaviour so HB fails.


The problem of agency for soft Behaviourism ?

Soft behaviourists don’t seek to eliminate agency talk from behaviour descriptions as it’s impossible to talk about dispositions without agency.


The problem of reducing behaviour to dispositions ?

A dualist may reply that the brittleness of glass is not purely a matter of being disposed to breaking , but an underlying inner structure of the material

Having a toothache is having an inner feeling causing me to outwardly express that feeling, not a disposition.


Problem 1 - Behaviourism can not explain how mental states CAUSE behaviour :

Behaviourists explain behaviours with other behaviours, but it leaves a gap.

E.G. Pain, being in pain causes me to cry, but behaviourists only talk of the disposition to cry out. They only point to the effects of mental states, not what causes them. Pain and other mental states cannot be reduced to effects.


Problem 2 - behaviour cannot fully explain mental states (agency) :

Hard behaviourists seek to explain mental states JUST through behavioural terms.

Statements such as ‘John reached out his arm’ should be replaced with ‘Johns arm is extended’

This is a problem because you can’t explain human action in behavioural terms, same behaviour could suggest different actions.


Problem 3 - asymmetry

If Behaviourism was true it would follow that it’d be easier to understand other people’s mental states than our own because it’s easier to observe other peoples behaviour more than our own


Possible conclusion :

Behaviourism was developed as a theory relating to language to describe mental states. If considered it can be seen as partially successful, but fails to give a full account of mental states. Through introspection we know our mind plays a causal role in behaviour and we know our minds without behaviour


What is Hilary Putnam’s super Spartans?

Super Spartans are trained to resist any outward expressions of pain behaviour.


Objection to super Spartans?

This will only occur in those suitable trained and disciplined and we could still talk of pain behaviour in the untrained.

Behaviourists can talk about dispositions to those unconditioned.


Reply of super super spartans?

Extends the situation to where training has persisted for generations and encompassed the whole community to a point where they’re super super Spartans and pain talk has dropped out of used


Problem of multiple realisation of mental states in behaviour?

Infinite responses to mental states.

Pain of a toothache: speaking, crying, wincing etc.

Infinite variety of possible behaviours for a metal states , so Behaviourism cannot usefully account for what’s going on in our minds without going into a inconclusive list of behaviour