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Dualism and behaviorism fail to reconcile

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Herber Y.
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  1. Introduction
  2. The method of absolute doubt
  3. The will as free and infinite
  4. The objections to the claims made by Descartes
  5. Skinner's view
  6. The analysis of behavior
  7. Non human animals as automata
  8. Skinnerian theory
  9. Conclusion: The possible interaction of Cartesian man and Skinnerian

I will compare the Cartesian mind to the Skinnerian characterization of behavior. The Cartesian mind is an entity separate from body and it affects behavior while the Skinnerian characterization of behavior is exclusively contingent upon re-in forcers from the external environment. The Skinnerian being is behavior. Considering these differences, I will show that it seems if one view is accepted, the other is rendered incoherent. But I will attempt to explain an interaction between the two, an interaction influenced by both Skinner and Descartes that does not fully deny one or the other. I will show how this interaction can simultaneously appease Skinner and Descartes but ultimately, I will show that my proposed interaction fails.

[...] Skinner does not believe in a mind in the sense of a mind that is conscious of choices and chooses to act (Skinner, 14). He explains behavior as exclusively contingent upon reinforcers in the environment. Stimuli acts upon an agent who in turn responds with a particular behavior induced by the stimuli. That behavior is reinforced either positively, to promote its recurrence, or it is punished, which makes the behavior less likely to be repeated. An agent (not to connote ?autonomy? or ?rationality?) avoids aversive controls and repeats behavior that is rewarded (Skinner, 26). [...]


[...] For Skinner to deny the mind would be for him to dismiss the faculties Descartes thoroughly engaged and explained and Skinner does so without addressing Descartes in his own terms and methods of reconstructing from doubt, intellect, and perception. But Ryle explains that thinking about the mind in Descartes' way is simply a ?categorical- mistake,? an incorrect, approach that assigns different explanations to things belonging to one unit (Rosenthal, 56). Ryle compares Descartes mistake to the man who sees the buildings, faculty, students of a university, all of which, together, make the university, but is confused about when he will see university, an elusive entity separate from its parts (Rosenthal, 53). [...]

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