Essay about Identity Theory

1490 Words6 Pages
In my opinion, mental states are not behavioural dispositions, as originally described by behaviourists. Behaviourism was primarily devised to address the flaws of Substance Dualism and present a solution to the mind-body problem. Since then, many other philosophical ideas have provided alternative solutions to the mind-body problem, as well as exposing weaknesses in behaviourism. Behaviourism states that behavioural dispositions are tendencies to react with a certain kind of stimuli. For example, if a person is confronted by a tiger, that person would be disposed to; run away, shout for help and assert ‘there is a tiger.’ This is what is known as a mental state, a stimulus and the relevant dispositions. This theory seems relatively sound…show more content…
A criminal telling a lie may feign confusion, apathy and indifference, hoping to convince people that he is unaware of something. Another argument against behaviourism refers to the stimulus response experiment of ‘Pavlov’s dog.’ The experiment showed that behavioural dispositions could be provoked by conditioning. A bell would be rung, signifying the arrival of food to the dog, whether there was any food or not. The dog would show all the relevant dispositions of hunger salivating etc. However this does not mean the dog was pressed into a mental state of hunger as a result of the conditioning. Simply put behavioural dispositions do not directly correspond with a mental state. Another flaw can be seen in the ‘Behaviour unnecessary’ argument. It suggests that certain mental states aren’t necessarily tied to behavioural dispositions. As an example, a person may have an unpleasant experience such as pain from a broken bone. They would still feel the sensation of pain no matter what they were disposed to feel. The feeling of pain is still present regardless of how you choose to react to it. An additional fault in the behaviourist argument is evident when applied to another group of Philosophers. The argument falls apart if the person experiencing the stimulus is a stoic. Stoicism is typically associated with the removal of emotion from one’s life. However ‘super stoics’ have complete control over their behavioural dispositions as well as
Get Access