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Armstrong: Nature of Mind

Terms in this set (20)

"Behaviourism might seem like a contender for a Materialist account of the mind. Behaviourism denies the 'ghost in the machine', instead claiming the mind is only outward behaviour. Such crude Behaviourism is prone to objections e.g. we can think or experience emotions without acting. Dispositionalism attempts to refine Behaviourism so as to avoid such objections. Dispositional thesis: A state of mind can be understood as a disposition to behave in a certain way. Analogy: The brittleness of glass gives it the disposition to shatter although it need not shatter to have this disposition. Dispositionalism is able to dodge the objection that one may think or have emotions without acting on or expressing them, for it claims that one still has the disposition to act or behave in such a way under normal circumstances (i.e. when one isn't lying). But this isn't enough because dispositionalism denies that there is anything 'going on' when one merely has the disposition to behave in such and such a way but doesn't manifest this disposition. When we think or feel emotions while not acting or expressing. So the refined Dispositional Behaviourism is inadequate also, but this isn't surprising for it is couterintuitive to think that speech and behaviour are identical with thought. Rather, we think that a person's behaviour and speech provide reasons for attributing certain mental states. This line of thinking suggests a further recasting of the Behaviourist insight. Thesis: a particular mental state is the state of a person apt to bring about or 'cause' certain behaviour and speech. This view is compatible with (although does not entail). Physicalism It is thus the empirical work of (neuro)scientists to determine which brain states cause what behaviour. This view, Central State Materialism, will thus explain a mere disposition to act in much the same way a modern scientist would explain the brittleness of glass to shatter: in terms of its physical structure. But while this CSM is inspired by Behaviourism, it rejects the essential Behaviourist claim, for it turns out we do have to 'go behind out behaviour to inner states.' CSM is a (Hegelian) synthesis between Behaviourism and Cartesianism: 'a mental state is the state of a person apt for producing certain ranges of behaviour'."
"There are many objections to be met by CSM, but herein only one shall be addressed. While Behaviourism might be adequate for a 3rd-person pov, it was obviously lacking for the 1st-person pov; a similar difficulty might seem relevant to CSM. The claim that we are in certain states apt for producing a range of behaviour does not seem to do justice to the 1st-person experience we have of consciousness. What consciousness is can be appreciated by considering cases such as long distance, 'auto-pilot' driving, where it is seemingly absent. CSM seems both, compatible with this unconscious cognition, and unable to explain consciousness. To sketch an answer to this challenge, first consider sense-perception: Psychologists test for capacities of sense-perception by examining selective behaviour. A Behaviourist would claim that the selective behaviour was the sense-perception CSM claims the selective behaviour indicates mental capacities which are inner states. In this sense, perception is like a key which can unlock the door of selective behaviour; without the key, however, the door must stay closed. In this light, consciousness is the perception or awareness of the state of one's own mind. The auto-pilot driver percieves the road, but not his own mind (as we normally do). Consciousness is like an 'inner eye' or 'self scanning mechanism'. Consciousness then should be explainable in a similar manner to normal perception, and examinable via speech. This account seems compatible with physicalism, though does not entail it of necessity. Modern science increasingly suggests a purely phsycialist account of the mind is possible, and although there are many matters still to be addressed, I hope to have made it seem more plausible and attractive."