Problems for behaviourism
1. it seems to ignore consciousness.
Many argue that there is something it is like
2. There seem to be an indefinite number of behaviours that could be
associated with a given mental state.
If I think it’s going to rain, must I be disposed to carry an
o What if I don’t have one?
o What if I like getting wet?
o What if I want to show that Ryle is wrong?
3. In characterising a mental state, we often need to refer to other
Hence our analysis is incomplete or circular.
4. Behaviourism seems not to accommodate mental causation.
If my belief that it is going to rain is partly constituted by my
carrying an umbrella, it cannot cause my carrying an
If part of being in pain is crying out or being disposed to cry
out, pain could not cause the crying out.
Some say : The behaviourist was on the right track, but stopped too
What are dispositions and can we explain them?
Dispositions and categorical
Sugar has the disposition to dissolve in water.
It is soluble.
Must a lump of sugar actually be dissolved in order for it to be soluble?
Is there an explanation of why sugar is soluble? Yes.
Why does opium put people to sleep?
We ask about its non-dispositional properties – its categorical
Presumably, in the case of opium, its chemical properties.
Against the behaviourist, some think we need to investigate the
categorical bases of behavioural dispositions.
In the case of my mentality, what should we investigate? The brain.
Yes, we cannot observe the brain in the same way that we can observe
stimuli and responses, but so what?
Skinner’s black box is a subject of investigation after all! Identity theory
Mental states are identical to brain states.
There is an ambiguity, to which we will return, but for now let’s take
this to mean that: mental states are type identical to brain states.
Tokens are instance of the belief.
One property is reducible to another.
Ex: Light is electromagnetic radiation.
Heat is mean kinetic molecular energy.
Imagine: being in pain is identical to having one’s C-fibers firing.
Type-identity theory was proposed in the 50s and was initially
heralded as promising. But it fell out of favour quite quickly.
Why think that the only way to have mental states is ‘our way’?
And perhaps there isn’t even an ‘our;