death of the mind.
wwolfkir at sympatico.ca
Mon Jul 19 09:07:10 EST 2004
Lester Zick wrote:
> Yes, well, behaviorists like Wolf seem to disagree with behaviorists
> like GS and vice versa. Thus it would appear that behaviorists by and
> large don't have any consistent definition of behaviorism apart from
> it's whatever behaviorists do and say at any point in time.
> Regards - Lester
Which means that we are trying to figure just what we are talking about,
instead of making a priori assumptions. Unlike you. You keep maundering
on about definitions, etc, as if they were immutable laws written on
stone. You have occasionally quoted dictionary definitions, even. Good
What's a definition? If it's in the dictionary, it's the dictionary
maker's report on the meaning(s) attached to a word, as best as the
maker can ascertain. Such definitions may have nothing to do with what
the supposed referent of a word really is. (Consider the meanings of
"heat" for an example.)
If it's in a math text, it's limitation on the meaning of a term,
defined as the context in which the term may be used to construct
truthfunctional statements. If it's a poor definition, then the term can
be used to construct contradictory statements, which is why
mathematicians care deeply about the definitions they make.
If it's in a science text, it's a summary of the current state of
knowledge about whatever it is that the definition refers to.
If it's in a piece of legislation, it's a limitation on the meanings the
word has in other contexts (including the explcit denial of some of
those meanings, if necessary). And, as we all know, even so a word will
be ambiguous enough that it takes loadasadough to get a judge to define
the word further so that egregious miscarriages of justice may be avoided.
If it's in theology, -- well, better not get into that. Theology is as
bad as economics: ask three theologians for the meaning of "god", and
you'll get six anssers.
In all cases, definitions are human constructs, and therefore are
subject to change. The fact that Glen and I do not fully agree means
both that neither of us fully understand the subject, and that I in
particular am uncertain about the scope of "behaviorism." BTW, we can
disagree about the scope of "behaviorism" without disagreeing about the
futility of mentalist explanations. We can even disagree about the
reasons for that futility. We can disagree about a lot of things, in
fact. But that disagreement is not evidence that can be used to refute
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