How A Patient Who Has No Brain But Is Acting “Normal” Has Mental States
In the explanation of our paper topic, there is a conversation going on between 6 doctors about a patient who has no brain, however, the patient acts normally like everyone else. Among all the doctors, I want to defend the point of Doctor #4 because what this doctor says clearly resembles the theory of behaviorism and I tend to agree with that philosophy of mind. This paper provides us with reasons of how a patient who has no brain but is acting “normal” has mental states and how the concept of behaviorism is the best way to prove it.
There is a conversation happening between various doctors about a patient who looks absolutely normal from outside, but later there comes a point when the audience realizes that there is no brain in that patient. The big question over here is whether to say this patient has no mental states since he has no brain, or maybe he has some mental states because he is still alive and is normal or he is the same like everyone else and we can say that he has normal state since he is “normal”.
I will focus my paper on defending the point said by doctor #4. Let’s start by actually saying what the doctor#4 actually says in the argument.
“I don’t see what the fuss is. Having mental states is not having something that is ‘a mind’. It’s just behaving or being disposed to behave in ways that constitute having mental states. So, the patient clearly has mental states” (McIntosh, 2018).
I completely agree with this point of view and I have two major reasons for this. The first major reason is that from their conversation, it is so clear to me that the patient is acting normal. The principle of behaviorism is all about how a person reacts to a situation and how his stimuli would produce a certain type of reflex. So, the person is acting normal and all the doctors agree with this. So, he has a mental state like anybody else.
Let’s elaborate this point of view. Behaviorism deals with observable behavior around us and there are two theories connected to behaviorism: Methodological and radical behaviorism. My two reasons are based on methodological theory. Methodological behaviorism, which was a theory written by John Walton, gives us reason for why a person eats, walks, rides a car and sleeps rather than giving reason for a why a person thinks or why a person has desires in it (Walton, 1913). According to this theory, the reason for why we do our daily activities is that we learn behaviors from our environment. Environment is primarily our main hub from where we learn behaviors. In the case of this patient, this is what is happening (Walton, 1913). Though she has no brain, she is still behaving normally because she does have stimulus inside her and that is being activated, causing a reflex when people talk to her.
B.F SKINNER JOHN WALTON
Pioneers of Behaviorism
My second reason is about laying a groundwork of declaring whether someone is normal or not or in other words, can we consider a person who has no brain but has mental states considered normal .My point of view is that the person is behaving normally so the person has mental state because if the person was not acting normally , I would consider that person as a dead person. Now we can go into more discussion about the degree of this patience’s “normalness”. I agree that if the patient had a brain, the patient would have more features in its body like desires, opinions and other human qualities but this is not the argument. The main argument in this particular subject is what is the condition on which the person can be considered as someone with mental states. Therefore, my answer is when someone acts completely normal which is in the case of this patient.
In addition, I will focus on defending doctor #4 by using supportive statements by other doctors. If we go through the conversation, doctor #5, doctor #6 seem to agree with the point of view of doctor #4, however, let me make it very clear that their pint of view is drastically different from the concept of behaviorism but still I would bring up their views in my paper my main purpose is to defend the argument that the patient has a mental state.
The doctor #4 talks about “requisite casual capacity” which refers to the fact that the person has enough mental capacity to act normally which seems true to me. Then, doctor #6 says that he agrees with doctor #4 and doctor #5 but he also brings up that he is skeptical about qualia (McIntosh, 2018).
Now, I want to divert my essay in a direction where I will be objecting point of views of some doctors in that conversation. The first doctor points out that “no one has mental states” (McIntosh, 2018). This is a completely stupid point of view. All human beings have mental states. We are not machines. We have abilities to understand concepts, ideas and implement them unlike machines which completely run in instruction given by human beings. To make this point clearer, I want to bring up Searle’s point of view of computer and human beings. He says that even if a computer understands a story (which is a highly complex concept), it does not understand the essence of the story (Searle, 1980). It can only find out various parts of stories through human instructions. That does not make a computer have mental states. But human beings have a huge capacity to understand stories and find out its essence unlike computers.
Secondly, lets focus on the view of the second doctor. He says we have “immaterial soul” and our mental states exists on it (McIntosh, 2018). I disagree with this point of view because there is no physical evidence of any soul in our body. Even the doctor #3 agrees with my point of view. Bringing up hypotheses in the field of philosophy without any physical evidence is absolutely a waste of time.
Behaviorism is absolutely the best concept to explain this instance. My above explanation is actually based on the theory of methodological behaviorism. But now to give more stronger evidence, I want to present the point of view of radical behaviorism which was a theory written by B.F Skinner. Radical behaviorism in addition to reflexes brings thoughts and feelings into its theory. This theory tells us that even feeling and thoughts are trained through physical environment (Weeger,2012). If we consider this as true, then there is a huge possibility that we can consider this patient has rational feelings and emotions like everyone else even though she has no brain because her feelings are a component of her stimuli and when a stimulus is activated, we get reflexes as a result (Weeger, 2012).
Hence, I would like to conclude this essay by saying that doctor #4 is right and I agree with his opinion because he deals with the idea of behaviorism which I completely agree with. The patient looks normal from outside and is behaving exactly like everybody else even though she has no brain because she has learnt her behaviors from her environment and when someone activates her stimulus by trying to communicate with her, she will back to the person like a normal person because all of her physical behaviors, feelings and thoughts are a component of her stimuli and when we bring movement to it, it produces reflexes in response.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below