Advertisement

Enactivism, pragmatism…behaviorism?

  • Louise Barrett
Article

Abstract

Shaun Gallagher applies enactivist thinking to a staggeringly wide range of topics in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, even venturing into the realms of biological anthropology. One prominent point Gallagher makes that the holistic approach of enactivism makes it less amenable to scientific investigation than the cognitivist framework it seeks to replace, and should be seen as a “philosophy of nature” rather than a scientific research program. Gallagher also gives truth to the saying that “if you want new ideas, read old books”, showing how the insights of the American pragmatists, particularly Dewey and Mead, offer a variety of resources and tools that can be brought to bear on modern day enactivism. Here, I suggest that the adoption of enactivist thinking would undermine the assumptions of certain scientific positions, requiring their abandonment, rather than simply making it more difficult to conduct research within an enactivist framework. I then discuss how Mead’s work has been used previously as a “pragmatist intervention” to help resolve problems in a related 4E endeavour, Gibson’s ecological psychology, and make a case for the inclusion of radical behaviorism as another pragmatist resource for 4E cognition. I conclude with a plea for further enactivist intervention in studies of comparative cognition.

Keywords

Enactivism Evolutionary psychology Mead Radical behaviorism Theory of mind Ape cognition 

Notes

References

  1. Aizawa, K. (2015). What is this cognition that is supposed to be embodied? Philosophical Psychology, 28(6), 755–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aizawa, K. (2017). Cognition and behavior. Synthese, 194(11), 4269–4288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baldwin, J. D. (1988). Mead and Skinner: Agency and determinism. Behaviorism, 16, 109–127.Google Scholar
  4. Barrett, L. (2012). Why behaviorism isn’t Satanism. In T. Shackelford & J. Vonk (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of comparative evolutionary psychology (pp. 17–38). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, L. (2015). A better kind of continuity. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 53(supplement), 28–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett, L. (2017). The (r)evolution of primate cognition: Does the social intelligence hypothesis lead us round in anthropocentric circles. In J. Kiverstein (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of the philosophy of the social mind (pp. 19–34). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Barrett, L. (2018). Picturing primates and looking at monkeys: Why 21st century primatology needs Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations, 41(2), 161–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bergmann, G. (1962). The contribution of John B. Watson. In J. M. Scher (Ed.), Theories of mind (pp. 674–688). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Block, N. (2005). Action in perception by Alva Noë. The Journal of Philosophy, 102(5), 259–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. (1985). Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brinkmann, S. (2004). Psychology as a moral science: Aspects of John Dewey’s psychology. History of the Human Sciences, 17(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buttelmann, D., Schütte, S., Carpenter, M., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Great apes infer others’ goals based on context. Animal Cognition, 15(6), 1037–1053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costall, A. (1995). Socializing affordances. Theory and Psychology, 5(4), 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Costall, A. (2012). Canonical affordances in context. Avant, 3(2), 85–93.Google Scholar
  15. Derksen, M. (2007). Cultivating human nature. New Ideas in Psychology, 25(3), 189–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dewey, J. (1900). Psychology and social practice. Psychological Review, 7(2), 105–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gallagher, S. (2017). Enactivist interventions: Rethinking the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallistel, C. R., & King, A. P. (2009). Memory and the computational brain: Why cognitive science will transform neuroscience. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  20. Hacker, P. M. S. (2013). Wittgenstein: Comparisons and context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Henrich, J. (2015). The secret of our success: How culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smarter. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Laland, K., Odling-Smee, J., & Feldman, M. (2000). Niche construction, biological evolution, and cultural change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23(1), 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  24. Latour, B. (1994). Pragmatogonies—A mythical account of how humans and nonhumans swap properties. American Behavioral Scientist, 37(6), 791–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lurz, R. (2009). If chimpanzees are mindreaders, could behavioral science tell? Toward a solution of the logical problem. Philosophical Psychology, 22(3), 305–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Malafouris, L. (2013). How things shape the mind: A theory of material engagement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Mead, G. H. (1938). The philosophy of the act (Ed. C. W. Morris). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Moyal-Sharrock, D. (2013). Wittgenstein’s razor: The cutting edge of enactivism. American Philosophical Quarterly, 50(3), 263–279.Google Scholar
  30. Noble, W. G. (1981). Gibsonian theory and the pragmatist perspective. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 11(1), 65–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Penn, D. (2011). How folk psychology ruined comparative psychology: And how scrub jays can save it. In R. Menzel, J. Fischer, & J. Lupp (Eds.), Animal thinking: Contemporary issues in comparative cognition (pp. 253–266). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Pinker, S. (2003). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature. Chicago: Penguin.Google Scholar
  33. Plotkin, H. (2002). The imagined world made real: Towards a natural science of culture. London: The Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  34. Povinelli, D. J., Bering, J. M., & Giambrone, S. (2000). Toward a science of other minds: Escaping the argument by analogy. Cognitive science, 24(3), 509–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Povinelli, D. J., & Vonk, J. (2004). We don’t need a microscope to explore the Chimpanzee’s mind. Mind and Language, 19(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reddy, V., & Morris, P. (2004). Participants don’t need theories: Knowing minds in engagement. Theory & Psychology, 14(5), 647–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Skinner, B. F. (1956). A case history in scientific method. American Psychologist, 11(5), 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Skinner, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of reinforcement: A theoretical analysis. Des Moines: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  40. Skinner, B. F. (1972). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  41. Skinner, B. F. (1973). Answers for my critics. In H. Wheeler (Ed.), Beyond the punitive society. London: Wildwood House.Google Scholar
  42. Sterelny, K. (2012). The evolved apprentice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tomasello, M., & Call, J. (2006). Do chimpanzees know what others see—Or only what they are looking at? In S. Hurly & M. Nudds (Eds.), Rational animals? (pp. 371–384). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1992). The foundations of culture. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind; evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 19–136). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Wheeler, M., & Clark, A. (2008). Culture, embodiment and genes: Unravelling the triple helix. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 363(1509), 3563–3575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbirdgeCanada

Personalised recommendations