Place, U. T. (1987a). Skinner re-skinned. In S. Modgil, & C. Modgil (Eds.), B. F. Skinner, Consensus and Controversy (Part XI, Skinner and the 'Virtus dormitiva' argument, pp. 235-243). Falmer Press.
Abstract:
In 'Skinner Skinned' Dennett (1978, chapter 4) discusses two arguments, the virtus dormitiva and intentionality arguments, which he sees as the only solid ground underlying the various arguments which Skinner gives for repudiating the use of mentalistic explanations in a scientific psychology; and of these he endorses only the intentionality argument. I argue (a) that what Skinner finds objectionable in mentalistic idioms is their dispositional character, (b) that both the virtus dormitiva and intentionality argument are arguments against the use of dispositional property ascriptions in scientific explanation, and (c) that, since dispositional property ascriptions are essential to any causal explanation, Dennett has failed to provide any good reason for endorsing Skinner's repudiation of mentalism. It is suggested that mentalism is objectionable only insofar it involves the use of idioms which presuppose what Skinner (1969) calls 'rule-governed' behaviour to explain behaviour that is 'contingency-shaped'.
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