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Behaviorism and psychologism: Why block's argument against behaviorism is unsound

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Ned Block ((1981). Psychologism and behaviorism. Philosophical Review, 90, 5–43.) argued that a behaviorist conception of intelligence is mistaken, and that the nature of an agent's internal processes is relevant for determining whether the agent has intelligence. He did that by describing a machine which lacks intelligence, yet can answer questions put to it as an intelligent person would. The nature of his machine's internal processes, he concluded, is relevant for determining that it lacks intelligence. I argue against Block that it is not the nature of its processes but of its linguistic behavior which is responsible for his machine's lack of intelligence. As I show, not only has Block failed to establish that the nature of internal processes is conceptually relevant for psychology, in fact his machine example actually supports some version of behaviorism. As Wittgenstein has maintained, as far as psychology is concerned, there may be chaos inside.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-04-01

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