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Assess and Outline Analytical Behaviourism Essay

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Analytical Behaviourism is an empiricist view that was popular in the 1950s, and 60s. It was regarded as a scientific study of the mind, unlike psychological behaviourism. Popular behaviourists include Tom Nagel, Hempel and Ryle. Behaviourists believe that every time we talk about the mind we are infact talking about either actual, or possible, behaviour. So we are speaking about just physical substances and attributes, and nothing non-physical. Behaviourists reject the existence of mental states `sui generis', (as something in their own right). As behaviourism is all to do with the physical, behaviourism is a form of materialism. It claims to solve the mind and body problem, aswell as the problem of other minds, solipsism. Behaviourists would say that to be brave, means to manifest brave behaviour. Behaviourism is also a reductionist theory of language, as it suggests that language referring to thoughts, feelings and sensations, in other words, mental states, is simply a reference to behavioural states, or possible behavioural states.

It is easy to see the flaws in Behaviourism. The most obvious seems to be concerning acting. A person is performing in front of a camera, and they are trembling and shaking with what appears to be fear, because the character they are playing is afraid of someone, another character, coming to murder him. The behaviourist could not possible say that this person is actually afraid, because the person themselves would admit that they are actually just playing a part well. Another example is of a child who does not want to go to school and just wants to stay at home, and so rolls around clutching their stomach as if in pain. The child is not in pain, but just tricks his mot...


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...t links them together is their emotional origin. It is true that if we had no access to emotions we would be unable to categorise behaviour we witness and state that it means the person is feeling a certain way, as we could not relate to any sort of behaviour.

One simple criticism of analytical behaviourism is that, if we try to imagine a being, which exhibits, and will always exhibit no behaviour, this would make behaviourism false. If behaviourism was insisted to be true, then the possibility of something existing with absolutely no behaviour is self-contradictory. Generally behaviour is an unreliable index to what is going on inside our heads. In the year 2003, this seems obvious, with so much emphasis placed on mentality and our `inner self'. There are not many behaviourists left, as the theory is generally looked on as quite a preposterous one.



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