Single Idea 4983

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique]

Full Idea

We know too much about thought and behaviour to trust exact and universal statements linking them. Beliefs and desires issue in behaviour only as modified and mediated by further beliefs and desires, attitudes and attendings, without limit.

Gist of Idea

There are no rules linking thought and behaviour, because endless other thoughts intervene


Donald Davidson (Mental Events [1970], p.217)

Book Reference

Davidson,Donald: 'Essays on Actions and Events' [OUP 1982], p.217

A Reaction

Now seen as a key objection to behaviourism, and rightly so. However, I am not sure about "without limit", which implies an implausible absolute metaphysical freedom. Davidson goes too far in denying any nomological link between thought and brain.