Publications of Place that refer to Dennett (1978). Brainstorms: Philosophical essays on the mind and psychology
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.
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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Download: 1987a Skinner Re-skinned.pdf
Place, U. T. (1987b). Skinner re-placed. In S. Modgil, & C. Modgil (Eds.), B. F. Skinner, Consensus and Controversy (Part XI, Skinner and the 'Virtus dormitiva' argument, pp. 249-251). Falmer Press.
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Download: 1987b Skinner Re-placed.pdf
Place, U. T. (1991h). Error-correction in connectionist networks: A new perspective on the law of effect [Unpublished paper. Presented to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society, Bournemouth, 12th April 1991, Session on Behavioristic Perspectives on Cognitive Psychology and to the 17th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis, Atlanta, Georgia, May 26th 1991.] .
Download: 1991h Error Correction in Connectionist Networks - A New Perspective on the Law of Effect.pdf
Place, U. T. (1992f). Two concepts of consciousness: the biological/private and the linguistic/social. Acta Analytica, 7(8), 53-72.
How much of the mental life which we attribute to ourselves and our fellow human beings should we attribute to other creatures, particularly those mammals to which we are most closely related in evolutionary terms, given that such creatures do not communicate with one another by means of anything resembling human natural language?
The paper approaches this question historically by considering the positions taken by Aristotle, Descartes, the post-Darwinians such as Romanes, the behaviorists down to Skinner, and contemporary philosophers such as Davidson and Fodor. A distinction is drawn between two concepts of consciousness: the biological/private which I argue we should not hesitate to attribute to all warm-blooded vertebrates and the linguistic/social which is exclusively human.
The concept of consciousness as biological and private is the 'consciousness' of traditional introspective psychology and of 'Is consciousness a brain process?' (Place 1956). It comprises the phenomena of selective attention, conceptualization, mental image formation, emotional reaction and motivation. The concept of consciousness as linguistic and social is the consciousness of Hegel, Marx, Vygotsky, Skinner and much contemporary philosophical psychology. It consists of an integrated system of propositional attitudes (beliefs) all of which are either formulated or susceptible to formulation as sentences in natural language (Skinner's "contingency-specifying stimuli" or "rules").
Download: 1992f Two Concepts of Consciousness the Biological Private and the Linguistic Social.pdf
Place, U. T. (1992j). Towards a reconciliation between the associationist and radical behaviorist traditions in the experimental analysis of behavior. [Unpublished paper. Presented under the title 'The three term contingency as a link between the associationist and radical behaviorist traditions in the experimental analysis of behavior' as Invited Address to the First International Congress on Behaviorism and the Sciences of Behavior, Guadalajara, Mexico, 6th October 1992].
It is an implication of the Law of Non-Contradiction that two incompatible descriptions of the same class of phenomena cannot both be true. This suggests that the future for radical behaviorism must lie in achieving a reconciliation with other disciplines and approaches studying the same or closely related phenomena. The approach known as "associative learning theory" shares a common data basis with radical behaviorism in the area of the experimental analysis of animal behavior. It is separated from radical behaviorism by a different view of the nature of what is learned. According to the radical behaviorist, under certain antecedent conditions (discriminative stimulus + establishing condition) an organism learns to emit a response. According to associative learning theory what is learned is an association between a pair of consecutive stimulus events. When presented with the first member of the pair, the organism learns to "predict" or "expect" the second member of the pair. Until recently, the principal application of this principle was Rescorla and Wagner's (1972) analysis of Pavlovian (respondent) conditioning. More recently, Adams and Dickinson's (1981) reinforcer-devaluation experiment has led associationists to pay more attention to instrumental (operant) learning. It has also opened up an interesting divergence of views between Dickinson (1988; Heyes and Dickinson, 1991; Dickinson & Balleine, forthcoming) who takes it as evidence of a discontinuity between respondent conditioning, which he interprets in terms of the establishment of mechanical associations, and operant learning which he interprets in terms of the ‘beliefs’ and ‘desires’ of philosophical action theory, and Rescorla (1991) who uses it as evidence for an interpretation of operant learning based on the same principles of stimulus-stimulus association invoked by Rescorla and Wagner to account for respondent conditioning. Standing in the way of a reconciliation between radical behaviorism and associative learning theory are the misgivings of the former about the use made by the latter of ‘mentalistic’ concepts, such as ‘expect,’ ‘anticipate,’ and ‘predict.’ These misgivings may be allayed if attention is paid to the results of applying to such concepts the technique, known as ‘conceptual analysis,’ developed by Wittgenstein (1953; 1958) and the philosophers of the Oxford ‘ordinary language’ school. A recent application of this technique to the linguistic phenomenon known variously as ‘intentionality’ or ‘intensionality’ shows that it consists of two distinct varieties of ‘referential anomaly’ which ‘infect’ the grammatical objects of certain verbs. In one case, the grammatical object is used to indicate a range of possible events any one of which, if it were to occur, would constitute a manifestation or satisfaction of a disposition. In the other case, the grammatical object functions as a quotation of what the agent either has said or might be expected to say or have said. Referential anomaly of the dispositional kind is both unavoidable and benign, but the use of quotations to characterize behavioral dispositions is acceptable for scientific purposes only in those cases where the behavior in question is in fact subject to linguistic control. Since the grammatical object of the verbs ‘know,’ ‘believe’ and ‘think,’ as they occur in belief/desire explanations, takes the form of an embedded indicative sentence in oratio obliqua or indirect reported speech, Dickinson's explanation of instrumental/operant learning in animals involves the scientifically unacceptable metaphor of linguistic initiation and control. Rescorla's theory, on the other hand, requires nothing more than that the organism learn to ‘expect’ or ‘anticipate’ an event (the outcome), given the combination of an antecedent discriminative stimulus and the stimulus constituted by the incipient emission of the response which it evokes. In this case the anomaly of reference in the noun phrase which occurs as the grammatical object of the verb reflects its use as a device for indicating a range of possible outcomes any one of which, if it occurred, would fulfill and confirm the expectation which it specifies.
UTP made changes to the text of the presentation in 1995 and in 1999.
Download: 1992j 1999 Towards a Reconciliation between the Ascociationist and Redical Behaviorist Traditions in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.pdf
Place, U. T. (1994a). Connectionism and the resurrection of behaviourism. Acta Analytica, 9(12), 65-79.
The demise of behaviourism is traced to the advent of the serial-digital computer as a model for the functioning of the brain. With the advent of a new model in the shape of the parallel distributed processor (PDP) or connectionist network, the resurrection of behaviourism can be predicted. The relation between the two models is explained in terms of Skinner's (1966) distinction between "contingency-shaped" (modelled by the PDP) and "rule-governed" behaviour. Rule-governed behaviour in Skinner's sense is behaviour controlled by a verbal/symbolic "specification" of the relevant contingencies. The S-D computer is a device designed by a PDP (the human brain) to compensate for its own slowness and inefficiency in constructing and manipulating such symbolic specifications.
Download: 1994a Connectionism and the Resurrection of Behaviorism.pdf