Toward a New Behaviorism: The Case against Perceptual Reductionism

By William R. Uttal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
TOWARD A NEW BEHAVIORISM-- A SUMMARY AND SOME CONCLUSIONS1
In the previous three chapters of this book, I criticized a number of the contemporary paradigms of perceptual science. I argued for the acceptance of three major principles governing the use of models, neuroreductionism, and the search for a cognitive architecture, respectively.
1. Models can be, at best, descriptions of the course of a process and can never achieve the much stronger role of ontologically reductive explanations.
2. Neuroreductionism is far more difficult and far less well accomplished than many of my colleagues believe. Given the problems of complexity, chaos, and other well-accepted physical science principles, it is unlikely that a neuronal network explanation of other than a few peripheral processes will be achieved.
3. Despite the often stated goals of contemporary cognitive psychology, behavioral (stimulus-response, input--output) analyses are incapable of identifying the components of an internal mental architecture. The methods available are not suitable and, in any event, the task of identifying internal structure with behavioral techniques is impossible in principle. The entire approach is based on an interlocking nest of invalid assumptions.
____________________
1
This chapter is an adaptation of material originally presented as an essay ( Uttal, 1993)in the book Foundations of Perceptual Theory, edited by Sergio Masin of the University of Padua, Italy. This book was published by North-Holland Publishers of Amsterdam. The adaptation presented here is included through the courtesy of the publisher.

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