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Psychological vs. Biological Explanations of Behavior

Fred Dretske
Behavior and Philosophy
Vol. 32, No. 1, The Study of Behavior: Philosophical, Theoretical, and Methodological Challenges (2004), pp. 167-177
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27759476
Page Count: 11
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Psychological vs. Biological Explanations of Behavior
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Abstract

Causal explanations of behavior must distinguish two kinds of cause. There are (what I call) triggering causes, the events or conditions that come before the effect and are followed regularly by the effect, and (what I call) structuring causes, events that cause a triggering cause to produce its effect. Moving the mouse is the triggering cause of cursor movement; hardware and programming conditions are the structuring causes of cursor movement. I use this distinction to show how representational facts (how an animal represents the world) can be structuring causes of behavior even though biological (i.e., electrical–chemical) events trigger the behavior.

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