Minds, Machines and Experiences
Behaviorist Analysis of Mind
Logical Behaviorism is a school of thought that focuses on the connection between descriptions of mental states and descriptions of behavior. To philosophers that adhere to this idea, such as Gilbert Ryle, mental states analytically entail behavior, both actual and potential. For example, a mental state that describes pain will directly result in a pain reaction. While this idea holds up in many cases, upon further inspection one can see that mental states do not always cause behavior. Behaviorism is not an accurate explanation of the mind because it holds the fallacy that results of a stimuli are the stimuli themselves.
“Brains and Behavior” by Hilary Putnam is a writing that addresses the issues of Logical Behaviorism. Putnam begins by defining the sensation of pain as a cluster concept: it represents a “cluster of phenomena”, a labeling that falls in line with Logical Behaviorism (Putnam, 47). He then takes this idea further, relating it to disease: Multiple Scoliosis is caused by a certain cluster of symptoms, that in turn is responsible for the symptoms of the disease (Putnam, 47). But what if one has all of the symptoms of the disease but they are all caused by a different set of phenomena? According to Putnam, that person does not have the disease. This is because mental description and behavioral descriptions lack analytical entailment (Putnam, 47). Just because one feels the symptoms of a disease are present, that does not mean that the disease is present. Behavior is simply the result of a set of phenomena, not the phenomena itself, which explains why Putnam believes Logical Behaviorism is false (Putnam, 48). To supplement his points, Putnam explains a thought experiment regarding “super spartans”. “Super spartans” are humans who can suppress all involuntary pain behavior (Putnam, 49). When one of them is put through tremendous pain,...