Archive for August 10th, 2012

August 10, 2012

I am a behaviorist

by Neil Rickert

In an earlier post, I said something about what I am not.  Now it is time to say something about what I am.

Psychologists tend to divide themselves into cognitivists and behaviorists.  The behaviorists study behavior of people or of experimental animals.  Cognitivists tend to study beliefs, thoughts, and the like.  It sometimes seems as if those two groups are at war.  Cognitivists are often pointing out what they see as flaws in behaviorism, while behaviorists are often pointing out what they see as follies in cognitivism.  It sometimes seems to me that each side is about right in its criticism of the other side.

The terminology from psychology has been carried over into philosophy, so that some philosophers consider themselves behaviorists and others consider themselves cognitivists or mentalists.  For example, Quine is sometimes said to be a behaviorist.  The term “behaviorism” seems to be rather broader as used in philosophy than its counterpart in psychology.

read more »