Mental States Are Like Diseases

In Robert Sinclair (ed.), Science and Sensibilia by W. V. Quine: The 1980 Immanuel Kant Lectures. Palgrave-Macmillan (2019)
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While Quine’s linguistic behaviorism is well-known, his Kant Lectures contain one of his most detailed discussions of behaviorism in psychology and the philosophy of mind. Quine clarifies the nature of his psychological commitments by arguing for a modest view that is against ‘excessively restrictive’ variants of behaviorism while maintaining ‘a good measure of behaviorist discipline…to keep [our mental] terms under control’. In this paper, I use Quine’s Kant Lectures to reconstruct his position. I distinguish three types of behaviorism in psychology and the philosophy of mind: ontological behaviorism, logical behaviorism, and epistemological behaviorism. I then consider Quine’s perspective on each of these views and argue that he does not fully accept any of them. By combining these perspectives we arrive at Quine’s surprisingly subtle view about behaviorism in psychology.
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First archival date: 2019-01-10
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