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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to J.J. McDowell, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322 (e-mail: psyjjmd@emory.edu)


Minding Rachlin's Eliminative Materialism


Journal Title:

Behavior Analyst


Volume 35, Number 1


, Pages 17-27

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Rachlin's teleological behaviorism eliminates the first-person ontology of conscious experience by identifying mental states with extended patterns of behavior, and thereby maintains the materialist ontology of science. An alternate view, informed by brain-based and externalist philosophies of mind, is shown also to maintain the materialist ontology of science, but without eliminating the phenomenology of consciousness. This view implies that to be judged human, machines not only must exhibit complicated temporally structured patterns of behavior, but also must have first-person conscious experience. Although confirming machine sentience is likely to be problematic, extended contact with a machine that results in a person interacting with it as if it were conscious could reasonably lead to the conclusion that for all intents and purposes it is.

Copyright information:

The Association for Behavior Analysis

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