Why Behaviorism and Anti-Representationalism Are Untenable

Journal of Mind and Behavior 41:277–292 (2020)
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It is widely thought that philosophical behaviorism is an untenable and outdated theory of mind. It is generally agreed, in particular, that the view generates a vicious circularity problem. There is a standard solution to this problem for functionalism, which utilizes the formulation of Ramsey sentences. I will show that this solution is also available for behaviorism if we allow quantification over the causal bases of behavioral dispositions. Then I will suggest that behaviorism differs from functionalism mainly in its commitment to anti-representationalism, and I will offer two new objections to anti-representationalism. The first will be based on considerations concerning the contents of desires and intentions. The second objection concerns inner speech and mental imagery. We will see that the objections are of relevance to contemporary debates, as they apply with equal force to the currently popular anti-representationalist versions of embodied and enactive cognition.



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