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Discussion Questions

Behaviorism and the Cognitive Revolution

  • 1. What is behaviorism? Why did behaviorists reject mental phenomena? How did behaviorists aim to understand human psychology? Why do you suppose behav- iorists studied people in this manner?
  • 2. How did the cognitive sciences emerge? What technological invention was key to the emergence of the cognitive sciences? Why was this technological innovation so important? Do you think the cognitive revolution would have happened without it? Why or why not?
  • 3. How did the cognitive revolution come to change our views of mental life? What are behaviorists and cognitive scientists disagreeing about?
  • 4. How would you define the brain? Is the brain an information-processing machine? How might someone argue that human brains function very differently from digital computers?

Dualism and Physicalism

  • 1. Why do you suppose the mind has commonly been differentiated from physical processes since Plato? Why has it been seen as residing on a plane of existence separate from physical reality?
  • 2. What is dualism? Does the position strike you as reasonable? Why or why not?
  • 3. If dualism was appealing, why did science adopt a nondualist point of view in the twentieth century? Why does dualism seem intractable from our modern scientific world view?
  • 4. Could it be that consciousness will never be scientifically explained? Why do you suppose mysterians are open to this possibility?
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