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Behavior and Philosophy



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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 117-119 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
In order to stimulate informal discussion of behaviorism among the readership, we have invited Murray Sidman to let us have his comments on the current scene as a regular feature of this journal. He has accepted. The following remarks constitute the body of what he had to say as discussant for the Symposium on Conceptual Issues in Behaviorism, presented at the convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., September, 1976. - Editor
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 121-123 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
I have often wondered if others share my conviction that errorless learning proves the learning process to be all-or-none rather than continuous. Perhaps everybody already knows this, or perhaps it is obviously wrong. Either alternative would explain why nobody has bothered to write about it, but it seems to me possibly to be one of those instances in which a datum stares us in the face without our recognizing it because we first met it in another environment.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 125-127 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
I occasionally announce to students that the first obligation of any good behaviorist is to conform to the laws of behavior. After all, if behaviorists flouted the laws of behavior why should anyone else obey them, and where would our Science be then? The ensuing discussion ends up, of course, with the conclusion that behaviorists have no choice in the matter. Their behavior is just as much determined as is that of any organism.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 129-132 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
To the extent that behavior is governed by reinforcement contingencies, we may agree with B.F. Skinner that operant behavior is essentially the field of purpose. I should like to take another step and suggest that behavior under stimulus control is essentially the field of cognition. Terms like purpose or goal refer to the control of behavior by its consequences, by subsequent events; it is sometimes said that we do things in order to achieve certain effects. Terms like cognition or knowledge refer to the control of behavior by its environmental context, by events which, unlike consequences, precede or accompany the behavior; here, it is sometimes said that our behavior expresses meaning or comprehension.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 133-136 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
I suggested last time that cognition and stimulus control are essentially the same field, that the analytic units appropriate to a science of knowing should be the same units with which we analyze relations between behavior and its controlling environment. Furthermore, by appreciating that descriptions of stimulus control will require us to identify relations among elements of the controlling environment itself, and by including such "stimulus-stimulus" relations in our descriptive units, we open the way for a behavioral attack upon some, at least, of those complex phenomena which define knowledge. The absence of satisfactory units of description and analysis has helped to keep behaviorists and cognitive psychologists from recognizing many of their shared interests.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 137-139 (2010). REMARKS. Murray Sidman.
I am always somewhat disconcerted when colleagues, telling me about their research, describe the experimental design before acquainting me with the problem the experiment is addressing. They seem not to recognize that an experimental design is empty until it is applied to a problem. Introductions to recent research reports, particularly in applied behavior analysis, seem also to emphasize experimental design at the expense of the study's substantive aims.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 141-144 (2010). REMARKS ON RESEARCH TACTICS AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Murray Sidman.
In Tactics of Scientific Research (Sidman, 1960/1988) I expressed my opinion that most philosophers of science know little or nothing about how scientific research is actually carried out. It appeared to me that the philosophy and the tactics of science had little to do with each other. My own exposition of behavioral research methodology seemed, therefore, even to me, philosophically irrelevant. It puzzled me that Willard Day, originator and editor of the philosophically oriented journal Behaviorism, thought anything I had to say might be of interest to philosophers of science; I was somewhat mystified when he asked me to write what turned out to be my Remarks columns.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 145-148 (2010). MURRAY SIDMAN: THE ACCIDENTAL PHILOSOPHER. Bryan Roche.
I have always thought of Sidman's classic text, known affectionately as Tactics (1960), as primarily a philosophy of science text. I was surprised to learn that Sidman himself did not see it as particularly relevant to the philosophy of science (Sidman 2010, this volume). It appears that since 1960 Sidman has been busy doing his ground-breaking basic and applied work unaware of his status as a philosopher of science, at least to some of us. This is surprising, because on reading the Remarks series, it is apparent that Sidman does not reside at the centre of our science, but at the very edge. No good behavioral engineer can push the boundaries of their own discipline, as Sidman has done, without a keen appreciation of the philosophy of their science.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 149-151 (2010). SIDMAN ON AVERSIVE CONTROL. William Ahearn.
There is no way to overstate the importance of Murray Sidman's contributions to applied behavior analysis. This series of Remarks represents just a few of those. I'd like to take this opportunity to restate some of Sidman’s (1977) comments on aversive control and illustrate why these are particularly relevant to the practice of behavior analysis today. Applied behavior analysts are presented with a daunting challenge with respect to aversive control. Indeed, many persons in the lay community associate behavior analysis with aversive control. This association is both puzzling and deserved. It is puzzling in that some of the most revered behavior analysts have extensively detailed the pitfalls and potential folly of the systematic application of aversive control. It is deserved in that there are numerous instances, both historically and currently, of behavioral practitioners relying heavily on punishment, in general, and the application of painful aversive stimulation, specifically.
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Behavior and Philosophy, 38, 153-155 (2010). STIMULUS CONTROL IS AN INFERENCE: IMPLICATIONS FOR INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMMING. Kathryn Saunders.
I had the pleasure of talking with Murray Sidman at a conference not too long ago. I had something important to tell him.
"Murray," I said, "I have been studying your work for nearly 30 years, and I've found something that you wrote that was wrong."
"Only one thing?" he asked.
"Yes, one thing."
Tags: Behavior and Philosophy, Murray Sidman, stimulus control
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