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Help: Philosophical Behaviorism

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Posted

Hallo!  B)

I'm preparing an essay on Philosophy of Mind and I'm having some trouble with philosophical behaviorism. Kim's Philosophy of Mind is mainly what I'm using, though I'm searching also in Wikipedia and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Well, the thing is that Kim defines philosophical behaviorism as the theory that "takes behavior as constitutive of mentality: having a mind just is a matter of exhibiting, or having a propensity or capacity to exhibit, appropriate patterns of behavior". 

I might be too dense and maybe it is very clear but I can't get it. I understand psychological behaviorism as a method of doing research: we cannot verify data about introspection so it's nonsense to try; this makes sense coming from a discipline which is constantly trying to show that it is indeed a science. No problem with this. 

However this doesn't seem to reject the existence of an interior activity happening in the brain. So what does philosophical behaviorism defend? Did they actually claim that behaviors as a whole are in fact what we call the mind? According to behaviorists, is behavior identical to the mind? This doesn't make any sense to me so I have the intuition of not having understand anything...

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Posted

No, philosophical behavioralism can include mental activity, only it breaks down what it sees as "mental" jargon into what it understands to be more objective language, i.e., the language of behavior. Hence, I can, while typing here, think, "I am rather fond of chocolate." What they would like to do is to break this down, or translate it, into behavior, either actual behavior, or in this case, the propensity for behavior (e.g., the propensity to seek out or consume chocolate when the occasion arises). The argument is both that this language is what will most clearly describe our condition (both physically and mentally), but also that our condition simply is either active or potential behavior (clearly, the two go hand in hand).

Does that make sense?

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Posted

Thank you soooo much, it seems much more clear and sensible now :D

Just one more question: how do we identify a propensity in behavior? By a repetition of the patterns?

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Posted

The only way to conclusively verify the propensity for a behavior is to put the subject in a conducive environment for the expression of that behavior. If the subject really is inclined toward such behavior then they would act upon it in those conditions. Otherwise, we would simply rely upon the subjects self-report until verification was possible. The key is not that they ever actually act upon said inclination, but that we strip the inclination of all the obsfucating "mental" language and analyze it in the language of behavior.

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Posted

I get it now!! Yeah!

Thanks for the help! Much appreciated ;)

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