Consciousness Thought

Minds and Computers: The Philosophy of Artificial by Matt Carter

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By Matt Carter

Matt Carter is a Lecturer within the Philosophy division at Melbourne college. this can be his first e-book.

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Smart and U. T. Place, is one of the three major figures associated with Australian materialism. The causal theory, as we have said, aims to give an account of what it is to be a mental state. This is, if you will, very much like providing a job description for mental states. A job description does not specify the race, age or gender of the occupant of the role. It merely tells us what the relevant duties are – what one has to do in order to fill the role. So it is with the causal theory – it tells us what something has to do in order to fill the role of a mental state.

One could, for instance, be a causal theorist but still maintain that the things which occupy the roles of mental states are immaterial. This would, of course, require an unusual account of causality but we have already seen that this is a problem for the dualist. Although the causal theory is, strictly speaking, ontologically neutral, the talk of causality does pave a fairly obvious path to a material identification of mental states. This is precisely what is provided by Australian materialism.

By varying the conditions under which the actuation 22    of the lever would yield a food pellet, Skinner was able to modify the behaviour of the rats accordingly. Unlike classical Pavlovian conditioning, this behavioural modification was contingent not just on the stimulus preceding the behaviour (a ringing bell, a rat together with a loud noise) but also on the environmental stimulus following the behaviour. Skinner called this operant conditioning, and developed an associated theory of how best to effect operant conditioning by controlling the positive and negative reinforcement of certain behaviours.

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