Explaining Human Behavior Philosophically

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In the chapter, it spoke of a John-Dylan Haynes, who conducted an experiment based of trying to explain human behavior. The experiment consisted of the subjects being “…put into a brain scanner in which a display screen flashed a succession of random letters, and they were told to press a button with either their right or left index fingers whenever they felt the urge, and to remember the letter that was showing on the screen when they made the decision. The experiment used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRL) to reveal brain activity in real time as the participants chose to use their right or left hands.” As described in the chapter. (Chaffee, 4.6, “Neuroscience and Free Will”).

The results of this experiment, “…suggested that there is brain activity signaling a choice is being made in advance of the person’s conscious awareness of making a choice.” as informed in the chapter. (Chaffee, 4.6, “Neuroscience and Free Will”). These results mean, the test subjects were under the assumption that they were (on a conscious level) making free willed decisions, but in fact the decision was already made or being initiated (on a neurological level). Within the experiment, he also discovered that the brain seemed to anticipate the decision long before the subject was even aware of making a choice. This chapter also stated,” the ‘conscious decisions’ that err believe to be directing a specific choice may be in reality a biochemical afterthought with no meaningful effect on our choices and actions.” (Chaffee, 4.6, “Neuroscience and Free Will”). This explain that people always make conscious decisions before making a “choice” which just becomes a biochemical afterthought.

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Throughout this chapter, it also talked about five main theories for explaining human behavior we discussed. These theories were: Human Nature (a person was born with instincts that help influence their behavior), Social Dynamics (a person is influenced by other social forces around them), Free Will (a person makes free choices that make them who they are), psychological forces (a person is controlled by psychological forces that cause them to behave in a certain way), and finally Environmental influences (a person’s behavior is influenced by their environment and their experiences).

The theory of environmental influences caught my attention the most. As the book states, the environmental influences theory is, “People are shaped by their environment, conditioned by their experiences to be the kind of people they are.” (Chaffee, 4.1, “Are You the Master of Your Fate?”). In other words, the way people behave have a link to the experiences they have had in their lives. With this theory, one must believe the “people cannot be help responsible for how they behave because they didn’t choose their environment…” as explained within the chapter. (Chaffee, 4.1, “Are you the Master of Your Fate?”). Meaning, that people shouldn’t be blamed for their behavior due to them being a passive agent controlled by forces beyond them.

In reference back to John-Dylan Haynes experiment, it describes human behavior being decided neurologically and the theory of environmental influences being described as human behavior being decided the experiences and environmental factors people surround themselves with. This theory challenges the experiments results because many people raised in poor environments and have bad life experiences tend to continue through life, tend to fail and make bad decisions and this couldn’t possibly neurologically impacted due to those who are raised up in a higher class and had good life experiences, tend to exceed in life and make good decisions.  


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