death of the mind.

David Longley David at
Wed Jul 21 09:10:22 EST 2004

In article <40fda412$1_2 at>, Sergio Navega 
<snavega at> writes
>"David Longley" <David at> escreveu na mensagem
>news:lVWSqqRhBZ$AFw3a at
>> In article <40fd8510_7 at>, Sergio Navega
>> <snavega at> writes
>> ..... One can experimentally
>> >check this prediction, and if this doesn't correspond to
>> >what is measured, then the model is *wrong* and should be
>> >rejected.
>> >
>> They may well *deduct* that if they're radical or evidential
>> behaviourists (there's a good chance that they will be if they've
>> managed to get this far). I'd guess they'd never have to consider such
>> notions in the first place being extensionalists.
>Perhaps extensionalists don't pose abstract notions because they
>are afraid that such notions will be only diversions from a more
>definitive way of understanding things. My idea is that the
>whole brain is too complicated to be understood at once. It
>is necessary to segment the problem in several levels, with
>a special concern toward the scientific validity of each
>level and also with connections between levels. Physicists do
>this, chemists do this, biologists do this. On the other
>hand, imagined abstract models are the raw materials of
>mathematicians and philosophers. In this regard, (experimental)
>cognitive scientists are in good company (please notice
>that I'm not talking about cognitive philosophers, upon
>whom I may even buy some of your arguments).
>> >
>> >Although the software/hardware distinction is a bad analogy
>> >for the mind/brain distinction, the idea is to have different
>> >levels of analysis, provided that one obeys basic scientific
>> >practices in all these levels.
>> >
>> >Sergio Navega.
>> >
>> >
>> >P.S: As an aside, let me mention a passage that I find hilarious,
>> >although it is a bit against my prior argument. I read this as
>> >an introductory quote to a paper about the use of metaphors and
>> >analogical reasoning (and, of course, its misuse). This is the
>> >situation: a physicist was invited to give a speech to a group
>> >of simple farmers interested in improving the yield of milk of
>> >their cows. Here's how the physicist started his speech:
>> >"Let's start by considering a spherical cow..."
>> >
>> >
>> I do understand your posts (although I clearly don't agree with what you
>> write). It doesn't look like you've understood mine (I've edited the end
>> of the one above to correct the sloppy writing in the last two
>> sentences, but I suspect that won't make much difference). You don't
>> *appear* to understood what you've read by Skinner or Baum either.  Do
>> you appreciate what's radical about radical (or evidential)
>> behaviourism?
>It's not that I've not understood Skinner and Baum, it is that
>I don't agree with what I've read of Skinner or Baum. In reality,
>it is not exactly a disagreement, it is an understanding of
>different ways of thinking that seems to be *more productive* than
>theirs (and equally valid in scientific terms). And how do I
>know this other way of thinking is useful? Because I don't seem
>to know of any model based on behavioristic principles that can
>fit as many *behavioral data* as, for instance, ACT-R (which is
>a computer model constructed with cogsci notions). So in my
>score I have behaviorism losing the game for ACT-R. Now see
>what happens when you have several competing models: ACT-R is
>constantly being compared with Soar (a model reminiscent of
>Allen Newell's symbolic ideas). This competition (by the way,
>Soar is losing...) is a demonstration that one can find
>criteria upon which to judge these models. What are these
>criteria? Abstract notions under one's sleeve? No, these
>criteria are objective experimental evidences (such as
>response times or direction of gaze or the shape of ERP pulses).
>I see this as an example of a valid science.

What Anderson etc. are doing is methodological behaviourism. They are 
presenting stimuli, measuring behaviour and conjecturing about 
intervening variables or functional relations in terms of hypothetical 
constructs. The point to appreciate is that they are working with 
behaviour. How *they* talk about those functional relations is often 
arcane and idiosyncratic to the researcher (alas). The problem is not so 
much that they have their abstract notions under their sleeves as that 
they poke them inside their subjects' heads or brains!

You don't really respond to what I have said (you just move on to yet 
more of your cognitivist preferences). Besides misusing the term 
extensionalist (which just reinforces my concerns that you haven't 
followed my objections to the cognitivist 'house-of-cards' enterprise), 
you don't appear to appreciate that the response of most people working 
in Behaviour Analysis is to ignore what people like Anderson get up to. 
Herb Simon sent me copies of Anderson's papers a couple of years ago 
when I briefly corresponded with him over some of the issues covered in 
"Fragments" bearing on "minimal rationality" and the context specificity 
of skills. I've been aware of Anderson's work from the '70s and I've 
been tacitly referring to his sort of work as an example of what's wrong 
with so much of contemporary psychology. I think one has to look at it 
from the applied perspective to see just how bad things are - and not 
enough people do that (as I have said here many times). The applied 
perspective *is* the perspective which folk interested in "AI" *should* 
be taking in my view. No doubt the contingencies which most academics 
work under render this very difficult as their environment seems to 
shape them towards cognitivism where research and papers are easier to 
generate - the cognitivist enterprise requires little in the way of 
resources and is low in scientific and pragmatic accountability.

I suggest you look more closely at ACT-R (with and without asterisks), 
and try to see it in operant terms. I reckon it might be worth your 
while to then look into some of the EAB animal work. (Perhaps Glen will 
help you on your way ;-)

>> (PS. Do you appreciate that you are Ozkural's favourite net poster?)
>I'm unable to judge if this is good or bad, but I can certainly
>say that Ezray must be a sensible fellow ;-)

We have tried to help Eray become a more sensible fellow, but he keeps 
"telling us" that he doesn't much like what we have to say very much. 
Although we keep telling him that that doesn't matter, he still tends to 
go off to try to get other folk to reinforce his superstitious 
behaviours. I think he has a club membership rule which excludes people 
who don't agree with him. This behaviour has a lot to do with what I was 
talking to Herb Simon about ;-)
David Longley

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