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The philosophy and history section is devoted to the philosophical, historical, metaphysical, and methodological foundations of the study of behavior, brain, and mind. Here you will find articles from our flagship journal Behavior and Philosophy, as well as critical or historical reviews, videos on apparatus, and other resourceShow More

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Behavior and Philosophy, Current Volume, 38, vii-viii (2010). EDITOR'S FOREWORD, Jay Moore.
Tags: Behavior and Philosophy, Journals, B&P
Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 31-48 (2010). MORALITY: WHAT IN THE WORLD IS IT?, Max Hocutt.
Half a century ago, Elizabeth Anscombe reminded us that we of the West think of morality as a kind of law-viz., a moral law. As originally conceived, this law consisted of heavenly commands delivered to a favored clan and known only by the privileged few who could read sacred scripture. However, the history of philosophy has been largely a tale of attempts to show that a law-like morality is binding on all men everywhere and known, like the truths of arithmetic and logic, by an exercise of a priori reason. Yet, morality as everywhere practiced is neither divine commands nor universal principles of thought. Instead, it is variable customs worked out by the members of diverse groups to help them get along with each other while they serve their biologically based needs. These customs are taught using rewards and punishment, they are revealed by observing behavior, and they are evaluated by measuring how they contribute to group welfare and individual flourishing. It follows that if we want to understand our mo
Tags: Behavior and Philosophy, morality, moral intuition, moral law, custom, reason, law, utility, Aquinas, Kant, Plato
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, vii-viii (2009). EDITOR'S PREFACE
This special section gathers five target papers on the issue of covert behavior and private events in radical behaviorism, plus one commentary of the papers.
For radical behaviorists, talk about "private events" could be about any of four things: (a) private behavioral events, (b) physiology, (c) dispositions, or (d) explanatory fictions. Talk about private events as behavioral engages the influence of feelings, sensations, and covert operant behavior. Analyses based on private behavioral events allow radical behaviorists to understand how those events contribute to contingencies controlling subsequent operant behavior, whether verbal or nonverbal. Talk about private events in physiological terms risks confounding explanatory categories. Although physiology necessarily participates in behavioral events, physiological events are not the same type as behavioral events, public or private. Rather, an organism's physiology is a material cause. To portray physiology as an autonomous, initiating cause, as traditional psychology often does, creates a variety of explanatory problems. Talk about private events as dispositions does not reflect anything literally private. Rat
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 39-57 (2009). OVERCOMING THE PSEUDO-PROBLEM OF PRIVATE EVENTS IN THE ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR, Linda J. Hayes and Mitch J. Fryling.
Radical behaviorism is distinguished from other varieties of behaviorism in part by its willingness to include private events among its subjects of analysis. This paper reviews the public-private dichotomy as described by Skinner, and concludes that this dichotomy is based upon faulty assumptions. An alternative conceptualization of events of the private class is proposed, whereby such events are viewed as neither private nor biological in nature. It is argued that while these events are complex and subtle, as interaction of responding and stimulating taking place in the same field of interaction as public events, they are accessible to external observers. The nature of their observation is described, and implications for behavior analysis as a scientific system are provided.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 59-85 (2009). AGAINST PARSIMONIOUS BEHAVIORISM, Jose E. Burgos.
This paper is a rejection of parsimonious behaviorism (PB). PB was proposed by Stemmer (2003) to avoid certain problems with radical behaviorism's (RB) appeal to covert behavior to account for mental phenomena. According to Stemmer, covert behavior was not clearly defined and its existence was not supported by empirical evidence. However, overt behavior is not as undefined, nor its existence as empirically unsupported as Stemmer claimed. Nor does PB avoid the problems, as it does not encourage us to seek a definition or empirical evidence that supports this existence. Moreover, Stemmer did not define the entities he accepted as existent (physiological traces), nor did he cite empirical evidence that supported their existence or his proposed interpretation of mental phenomena. Also, his claim that PB is more parsimonious than RB rests on a fallacious acceptance of the existence of physiological traces and a misinterpretation of the explanatory role of physiological events in RB. Finally, Quine's repudiation th
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 87-104 (2009). INTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF SELF-INSTRUCTION, Gordon R. Foxall and Jorge M. Oliveira-Castro.
Discrepancies between animal and human responding on standard schedules of reinforcement have been explained by reference to the human capacity for language and consequent formulation of self-instructions. As a result, schedule responding has been causally attributed to private events. However, the operations that individuals are assumed to carry out in the formulation of self-instructions cannot be described other than intentionally and this raises important issues of explanation for an extensional behavioral science. It is argued that radical behaviorism is ultimately dependent upon intentional explanation; moreover, the ascription of causality to the intentional terms on which radical behaviorism is dependent leads to the necessity of incorporating cognitive explanation into operant psychology. Extensions of radical behaviorist explanation beyond accounts of contingency-shaped behavior cannot avoid the use of intentional terms.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 105-117 (2009). PRIVATE EVENTS, Max Hocutt.
What are "private events" and what is their significance? The term is B. F. Skinner's, but the idea is much older. Before J. B. Watson challenged their methods and their metaphysics, virtually all psychologists assumed that the only way to discover a person's supposedly private states of mind was to ask her about them. Not a believer in minds, Skinner nevertheless agreed that sensations, feelings, and certain unspecified forms of "covert behavior" cannot be observed by others, because they take place inside the body underneath the skin. Then he added that these inner events are of interest only to the physiologist; the concern of the behavior analyst is how intact organisms interact with their environment, not how their inward parts interact with each other. That compromise enabled Skinner to pursue behavior analysis in disregard of neurophysiology, which there was at the time no good way to study anyhow. But Skinner's talk of ineluctably private events was ill considered and ill conceived. There is no
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 119-125 (2009). WHY DISPOSITIONS WON'T GO AWAY, Garth J.O. Fletcher and Patrick S.G. Kerr.
This commentary discusses the major claims and arguments presented by Field and Hineline (2008) against the general use of dispositional causal explanations in science and psychology and in favor of an alternative account that applies to cases in which causes and behavioral effects are separated over time. We conclude that their central claims and arguments are weak or implausible, and that the dispositional explanatory strategy emerges unscathed.

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