Basic Research

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The basic research section offers resources related primarily to experiments relevant to the behavior of individuals. Related methodological and theoretical resources are also provided in this section.

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Behavior and Philosophy Behavioral Technology Today Other
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 141-147 (2009). BEYOND THE MIRRORED SPACE: TIME AND RESISTANCE IN FEMINIST THEORY, Maria R. Ruiz.
Field and Hineline (2008) develop a full-scale account of the conditions under which speakers in our culture-in the vernacular as well as in the more technical parlance of psychological theory-explain behavior by appealing to contiguous events or, in their absence, to entities within the actor. This conforms to an early model of science that has historically dominated feminist work. As a result, feminists have commonly relied on personal agency as an explanatory construct and source of resistance in oppressive environments. I will illustrate the potential conflicts this creates for feminist work by considering the legal defense for battered women who kill their partners and the Battered Woman Syndrome as an explanatory scheme. Third-wave feminists have begun to incorporate Darwinian science into their frameworks. I discuss how this integration can help clarify the roles of extended behavioral relations and temporally distant events to resolve the conflicts in feminist analyses.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 149-150 (2009). ON EXPLAINING BEHAVIOR, Sigrid S. Glenn.
Field and Hineline (2008) offer a sympathetic explanation for the resistance of psychologists and philosophers to explaining behavior as temporally organized phenomena occurring as a function of other events, also often distributed over time. This resistance is supported by the contingencies maintained by the everyday verbal community that make dispositioning the default causal attribution for English speakers. Temporal organization of events is hard to "see," and the linearly organized verbal responses that describe such organization cannot model it. Whereas multiple scales of spatially extended phenomena can be pictured to aid in understanding (as seen, for example, on the "Powers of Ten" website:, pictures of events occurring at multiple time scales are schematics at best. The analysis provided by Field and Hineline helps make sense of the difficulties inherent in explaining behaving.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 151-155 (2009). HOW SHALL WE ACCOUNT FOR VARIANCE?, David C. Palmer.
Field and Hineline have shown how pervasive and insidious is the tendency to make dispositional attributions, even among those who criticize the practice, and they identify a bias for models of contiguous causation as one reason for this tendency. They argue that order can be found at multiple scales of analysis and that in some cases a translation to a model of contiguous causation is impossible. I suggest that pragmatic considerations are sufficient to justify a particular scale of analysis and observe that behavioral principles are fundamentally extended in time. However, I argue that accounting for variance is the goal of science; when events at one level are indeed mediated by those at another, more of the variance can be accounted for by considering both, and there is no principled reason for considering only one.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 157-163 (2009). "BEHAVIOR STREAMS" VERSUS "BEHAVIOR EXTENDED IN TIME", Charles P. Shimp.
Behavior analysis ironically appears to be increasingly at risk for abandoning its historic focus of moment-to-moment behaving, to other disciplines ranging from robotics and the "man-machine interface" to cognitive science where behaving is called "action." The misleadingly labeled "molar" analysis and the concept of "behavior extended in time" both signal this abandonment of behaving. I suggest that it would be premature to assume that moment-to-moment analyses and analyses of ―behavior extended in time‖ are on different and independent levels. I also suggest that behavior analysts might regain their focus on actual behaving by occasionally reading Pigeons in a Pelican (Skinner, 1960) and Farewell, My LOVELY (Skinner, 1976) and by developing and evaluating behaving theories.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 165-180 (2009). NATURALIST MORAL THEORY: A REPLY TO STADDON, Max Hocutt.
In an earlier essay in this journal, the estimable John Staddon charges B. F. Skinner and E. O. Wilson with committing several fallacies while promoting evolutionary ethics. The present essay replies that what Staddon regards as fallacies are signal contributions to a naturalistic understanding of ethical choice and language.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 181-185 (2009). FAITH AND GOODNESS: A REPLY TO HOCUTT, J.E.R. Staddon.
Professor Hocutt and I agree that David Hume first pointed out that "ought"-what should be done-cannot be derived from "is"-what is the case. Hocutt goes on to claim that "ought," in fact, derives from factual observation of "what we care about," which amounts to saying "you should do what you want to do." This seems to me unsatisfactory as moral philosophy.
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 187-194 (2009). VALUES: A REPLY TO STADDON'S "FAITH AND GOODNESS", Max Hocutt
In his spirited "Faith and Goodness" (this issue), John Staddon says that my defense of B. F. Skinner's definition of the good-as what has the potential to reinforce desire for it-overlooks the fact that people sometimes desire the wrong things. Staddon appears to agree with G. E. Moore that the good should, rather, be equated with what is worthy of being desired, so ought to be desired, whether it ever is desired or not. But since there is no objective test of worthiness, Moore's ought can only mean "I, and folk like me, desire that others desire what we desire that they desire."1 When the talk is of values, there is no getting away from desires.2
Arguably, one of the most exciting recent advances in moral philosophy is the ongoing scientific naturalization of normative ethics and metaethics, in particular moral psychology. A relatively neglected area in these improvements that is centrally important for developing a scientifically based naturalistic metaethics concerns the nature and acquisition of successful moral agency. In this paper I lay out two examples of how empirically based findings help us to understand and explain some cases of successful moral agency. These are research in moral internalization and aggression management. Using these examples, I sketch some lessons for investigating successful moral learning and moral action. My proposal reflects a common theme in scientifically based philosophy generally: the shift from the armchair methods of analyzing concepts and finding a priori foundations, the enterprise of first philosophy, to an effort to study the phenomena themselves, using empirical findings and theories to answer philosophical
Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 217-222 (2009). ASCRIBING INTENTIONALITY, Gordon R. Foxall.
Much of the commentary on my paper "Intentional behaviorism" (Foxall, 2007) fails to make contact with my central arguments about the use of intentional language in the explanation of behavior. Marr's (2008) remarks on my responses to that commentary (Foxall, 2008) also fail to address my original assertions. Both commentary and remarks tilt at windmills that were not in the landscape I described or hinted at in the solutions I proposed. I attempt here to map out my argument more clearly.
Behavior and Philosophy, 36, vii-viii (2008). PREFACE

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