Sample Essay

Logical behaviorism holds that when we talk about the mind we are really just talking about the behavior of the body, and hence about something that we can describe completely in physical terms. For instance, we might translate, “David is angry” as “David’s face is red; his fist is shaking, and he is yelling.”
However, other philosophers have raised objections to behaviorism as well. They say that behaviorism is based on a faulty theory of meaning, according to which being in a certain mental state, such as pain, simply means that one is in a certain sort of behavior-state. This ignores the fact that ‘pain’ is used often as a name for a sensation that is private to the individual. They propose that mental states be described, not as behavioral dispositions or physical-chemical states, but rather as those states that are causally responsible for the production of behavior in a computationally defined system of inputs and outputs. Just as a computer program can be realized in a variety of different hardware, so a shared mental state-type or belief can be registered in a variety of different organisms or functional systems. In other words, it should define mental states in terms of intrinsic properties rather than overt behavior (Putnam, 2002).

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