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Behavior and Philosophy



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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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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Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 127-133 (2009). PRAGMATICS AND PLURALISM IN EXPLAINING HUMAN ACTION, Kenneth J Gergen.
I am in agreement with Field and Hineline's excellent essay (2008) concerning the limitations of cause-effect explanation and the derivative problems with person-centered accounts of human action. However, their account is simultaneously limited by its constrained view of the aims of psychological theory. If we take a more pragmatic stance toward the function of theory, we also find theoretical explanations may be used effectively both to sustain and to transform society. They may also be employed in the service of social justice and to enrich the potentials for research and practice. To illustrate the enrichment function, I sketch out a form of confluence theory. In all these endeavors, one finds means of accounting for cross-time trajectories.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 37, 135-140 (2009). DISPOSITIONING AND THE SCIENCES OF COMPLEXITY, Stephanie C. Petrusz and Michael T. Turvey.
Field and Hineline use the term dispositioning to refer to the tendency to privilege spatially and temporally local entities in psychological explanation. In our commentary we offer reasons for agreeing with their claim that dispositioning is overly prevalent and should be avoided. Drawing on lessons from the sciences of complexity and the ecological approach to perception and action, we suggest some directions for a new approach to explanation in psychology and in science generally.
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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.
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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: http://powersof10.com/), 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.
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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.
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