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Theoretical behaviorism meets embodied cognition: two theoretical analyses of behavior

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This paper aims to do three things: First, to provide a review of John Staddon's book Adaptive dynamics: The theoretical analysis of behavior. Second, to compare Staddon's behaviorist view with current ideas on embodied cognition. Third, to use this comparison to explicate some outlines for a theoretical analysis of behavior that could be useful as a behavioral foundation for cognitive phenomena. Staddon earlier defended a theoretical behaviorism, which allows internal states in its models but keeps these to a minimum while remaining critical of any cognitive interpretation. In his latest book, Adaptive dynamics, he provides an overview and analysis of an extensive number of these current, behaviorist models. Theoretical behaviorism comes close to the view of embodied cognition, which also stresses the importance of behavior in contrast to high-level cognition. A detailed picture of the overlaps and differences between the two approaches will be sketched by comparing the two on four separate issues: the conceptualization of behavior, loopy structures, parsimonious explanations, and cognitive behavior. The paper will stress the need for a structural analysis of behavior to gain a better understanding of both behavior and cognition. However, for this purpose, we will need behavioral science rather than behaviorism.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2005

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