Volume 38, Numbers 3 and 4, Summer and Autumn 2017
The Place of Ordinary Psychological Categories in Behavior Analysis
This paper discusses the place of ordinary psychological categories (OPCs) — i.e., terms from “folk psychology” (e.g., “intention,” “fear,” “thinking”) — in a science of behavior, especially in behavior analysis. Based upon Laudan’s problem-solving metA–Theoretical framework, I begin by laying out some of behavior analysis’s standard guiding assumptions, as found in Skinner’s works. Second, I provide a semi-formal reconstruction of Skinner’s arguments against OPCs in a science of behavior. His assumption that OPCs are “mentalistic” — i.e., connote real or hypothetical inner phenomena explanatory of why we behave the way we do — is here highlighted, as well as disputed, by drawing upon conceptual analyses worked out by Ryle, among others. Third, I contrast Skinner’s view (radical behaviorism) with Rachlin’s (teleological behaviorism), a recent alternative behavioral standpoint on OPCs (similar to radical forms of 4E approaches). According to Rachlin, once the non-mentalistic meaning of OPCs is fully grasped, a proper use thereof turns out compatible with and useful to behavior analysis for picking out dependent variables. Finally, although going along with the thesis that OPCs are not mentalistic, I take issue with certain features of Rachlin’s account; among other things, with his dismissal of covert behaviors in the analysis of OPCs. Nevertheless, his claim for the possible significance of OPCs in behavior analysis — more exactly, the thesis that a proper adoption of these categories therein would enhance its problem-solving power — is supported.
Animal Cognition: An Aristotelean–Thomistic Perspective
James M. Stedman, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Matthew Kostelecky, St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta, Thomas L. Spalding, and Christina L. Gagné, University of Alberta
The relationship between human and non-human animal cognition has been a troublesome one for psychology from the very beginning of the modern era of the discipline. In this paper, we briefly trace the history of thinking on this matter, showing that there have always been difficulties, as mainstream views have tended to extremes, either complete discontinuity (e.g., Descartes) or complete continuity (e.g., Watson). Even in the case of those who push for complete continuity, there have been wildly different interpretations, ranging from extreme anthropomorphizing to extreme examples of treating humans as “just” animals. We present for consideration the Aristotelian–Thomistic approach to this question, and review those areas of research that convincingly demonstrate continuity, and those where the continuity is more questionable. We conclude that the Aristotelean–Thomistic approach provides principled claims of continuity and discontinuity that align nicely with the current research by taking seriously Aristotle’s famous definition of the human as a “rational animal,” avoiding both the Cartesian separation between rational and animal, as well as the modern attempt to remove the rational from the definition entirely.
The Evolutionary Function of Consciousness and Fregean Representationalism
Elizabeth Turzynski, Cardiff University
There is an intuition of contingency which causes philosophers of mind to often mischaracterize the nature of phenomenal consciousness. The aim of this paper is to define phenomenal consciousness not as a separate, distinct, and contingent entity, but as a process which is necessary in aiding our non-phenomenal cognitive functions. A constitutive relationship between phenomenal and non-phenomenal functioning explains how: phenomenality can afford evolutionary benefits to its possessors; how it can overcome some very persuasive thought experiments against physicalism and functionalism; and how its Fregean representational structure can indeed aid non-phenomenal cognitive processing. Ultimately, what is defended and preserved is an eliminative, physicalist, functionalist account of phenomenal consciousness.
Over and Beyond our Episodic Memories
Book Title: Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and Autobiography
Book Author: Mark Rowlands
Reviewed by Christopher Jude McCarroll, Macquarie University
Where do our memories go when we lose them? This question may seem childlike, and indeed it was posed to Mark Rowlands by one of his young sons, but it is a good question, and one that lies at the heart of Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and Autobiography. In answering this question, Rowlands takes us on a fascinating, insightful, and revisionary journey through episodic memory, its content (and mental content more generally), and the nature of the autobiographical self.
Confronting Emerging New Technology: The Case of the Sexbots
Book Title: Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications
Book Editors: John Danaher and Neil McArthur
Reviewed by Richard T. McClelland, Nanaimo, British Columbia
Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications is a collection of fifteen essays, most of them on ethical and social issues raised by the alleged advent of a technology that makes possible genuinely intimate sexual relationships between adult humans and robots. This review will concentrate on some large-scale systemic problems with this project, as these are instantiated in this set of essays. The failures of this collection are instructive for a better way, perhaps, to confront emerging new technologies.
Book Author: Richard Louis Miller
Reviewed by Tom Trueb, LSW Retired, Delphi, Indiana
Naturally occurring psychedelic drugs have been used for centuries for psychic healing, and were more recently joined by synthetic compounds that found value in modern psychiatry. They were quietly praised by clinicians, loudly celebrated by the counter culture, feared by governments, demonized by media, criminalized in the name of public health and safety, but were contributory to current psychopharmacological models.