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Behavior and Philosophy Free Access for Two Volumes

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Behavior and Philosophy     1990+
Behaviorism   1972 – 1989   *

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Behavior and Philosophy, Volume 47 (2019)

Smith, Terry L. (2019) Selection by Consequences in the Ontogeny of Behavior: The Problem of the First Instance. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 1-14.

Abstract: Selection by consequences occurs in both phylogeny and ontogeny. In both domains, qualitative characters pose the ‘problem of the first instance’—i.e., the problem that selection can explain the spread of a qualitative character within a population of individuals, but it cannot explain the first instance of that character. By contrast, selection is able to explain even the first instance of a quantitative character. Skinner limits the analogy between phylogeny and ontogeny precisely along this divide. Although qualitative characters exist in phylogeny, Skinner does not think they exist in ontogeny. This is one of the foundational differences between cognitive science and behavior science. The first purports to explain regularities in the ontogeny of qualitative characters, the latter purports to explain regularities in the ontogeny of quantitative characters.

 

Smith, Terry L. (2019) Selection by Consequences in the Ontogeny of Behavior: The Problem of the First Instance. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 1-14.

O’Donohue, William T., Burleigh, Kenneth, Kinzler, Alexander D. (2019) Capturing the Unique Nature of the Human Sciences: The Second Demarcation Problem. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 15-33.

Abstract: As Meehl (1978) noted four decades ago, psychology has progressed at a significantly slower rate than the natural sciences. This paper argues that one factor that may account for this discrepancy in problem solving progress is that the scientific methods used by psychologists have not properly taken into account unique characteristics of humans that the natural sciences need not consider. This issue has been called “the second demarcation problem” i.e., thata distinction between the methods of the natural sciences (the Naturwissenshaften) and the human sciences (the Geisteswissenshaften) — needs to be made in order to properly understand the research methods that are necessary for scientific progress in each. This paper describes four such unique characteristics of humans as justification for this second demarcation: 1) radical idiography, 2) phenomenological experience, 3) the possibility of free will, and 4) radically new knowledge.

O’Donohue, William T., Burleigh, Kenneth, Kinzler, Alexander D. (2019) Capturing the Unique Nature of the Human Sciences: The Second Demarcation Problem. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 15-33.

Zilio, Diego (2019) Mechanisms within Contexts: First Steps Towards an Integrative Approach. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 34-66.

Abstract: In a series of discussions that later became known as the debate between mechanism and contextualism, some behavior analysts vehemently criticized the mechanistic proposition in favor of the contextualist alternative by arguing that the latter would be more consistent with radical behaviorism. The purpose of this article is to revisit this debate, but this time from the perspective of explanatory mechanism. Explanatory mechanism has been gaining attention in several domains of science, from molecular biology to the social sciences, to the point of being considered the most influential position in contemporary philosophy of science. In addition, considering that the debate between contextualism and behaviorism predates the explanatory mechanism revival in philosophy of science, it is important to explore the place of behavior analysis in this new mechanism framework. For this purpose, I will start with the presentation of explanatory mechanism by taking into account three points: the definition of mechanism, the conception of mechanistic explanation, and the methodological strategies of mechanistic research. After that, I will argue that explanatory mechanism not only is immune to the criticisms made in contextualism literature, but also that it is possible (and probably desirable) to adopt explanatory mechanism within contextualism.

 

 

Zilio, Diego (2019) Mechanisms within Contexts: First Steps Towards an Integrative Approach. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 34-66.

Hocutt, Max (2019) Behaviorist Agency. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 67-80.

Abstract: Behavior analysts, as many behaviorists now identify themselves, rarely if ever use the words action, agents, and agency. Instead, following Skinner (1953, 1972), they substitute the eccentric neologism operant for the word action, the imprecise noun organism for the more specific agent, the ambiguous term responses (or the ungrammatical plural behaviors) for the collective noun behavior, while avoiding the abstract noun agency altogether. Here I revive and explain the terminology of action, agents, and agency while adhering to an austere set of guiding principles that should be acceptable to most behaviorists.

Hocutt, Max (2019) Behaviorist Agency. Behavior and Philosophy, 47, 67-80.

Behavior and Philosophy, Volume 46 (2018)

Gudmundsson, Kristján (2018) The Skinner-Chomsky Debate: The Centrality Of The Dilemma Argument. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 1-24

Abstract: The Skinner-Chomsky debate has been with us for a long time but has never been fully resolved. Outside behaviorism, Chomsky’s review is generally highly praised. Behaviorists have, however, countered by demonstrating many inaccuracies, misquotes, and basic errors couched in Chomsky’s emotional language. The purpose of this paper is to show that both parties are right. Although much of Chomsky’s criticisms miss the mark, one very basic point that Chomsky himself endlessly repeats is yet unresolved.
This part of Chomsky’s is called the dilemma argument and is shown to be a valid constructive critique that behaviorists would do well to address.
Therefore, it is necessary to go in some detail into this criticism. It is about time to flesh out its basic structure in order to add clarity to its examination. It is however, not the purpose of this paper to answer this criticism but only to highlight it. This will be a determined attempt at clarity, never giving up even when wading through Chomsky’s general emotional attitude – to say the least.

Gudmundsson, Kristján (2018) The Skinner-Chomsky Debate: The Centrality Of The Dilemma Argument. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 1-24

Thompson, Nicholas S. (2018) Signs and Designs. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 25-46

Abstract: The concept of sign is ambiguous, even in the hands of its most persuasive advocate, the 19th Century semeioticist, Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce’s explication of “sign” is unclear both in the discrimination of its basic elements—signifier, interpretant, and object—and in its specification of the relations among these elements. Resolution of these ambiguities would seem to require invoking an intention to bring the interpretant to bear on the signifier and generate the object. But invocation of intentions as causes would seem to dilute Peirce famously anti-dualist stance. Such a dilution could be avoided, if one were able to provide a non-dualist account of intention. For many years, the Natural Design Perspective has been suggested to conceptualize intentional constructions as referring not to hidden inner causes but as higher order patterns of behavior, more widely spread across time and space than individual acts. Applying the Natural Design Perspective to the definition of “sign” offers the hope of reconciling Peirce’s semeiotics with his monism.

Thompson, Nicholas S. (2018) Signs and Designs. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 25-46

Hocutt, Max (2018) George Berkeley Resurrected: A Commentary on Baum’s “Ontology for Behavior Analysis.” Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 47-57

Abstract: The following essay is a commentary on those parts of William Baum’s “Ontology for Behavior Analysts” that have to do with realism, which Baum defines as belief in the reality of things independent of perception and rejects on the premise that, since “All we have are perceptions,” distinguishing perceptions from their objects leads to an untenable metaphysical dualism. I show that this claim not only does not follow from Baum’s unintelligible Berkeleyian premise but is factually false. Some realists in the history of philosophy—notably Descartes and Locke—have certainly been dualists, but others (notably Hobbes and Spinoza) have not. As I show, the difference is that the dualists hold that mental activity occurs in a disembodied mind, while the materialists reply that it is the function of a material brain. This difference is obscured by Baum’s undefined talk of separate worlds.

Hocutt, Max (2018) George Berkeley Resurrected: A Commentary on Baum’s “Ontology for Behavior Analysis.” Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 47-57

Baum, William M. (2018) Berkeley, realism, and dualism: Reply to Hocutt’s “George Berkeley resurrected: A commentary on Baum’s “Ontology for behavior analysis.” Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 58-62

Abstract: Using Hocutt’s vocabulary, I repeat that realism leads inevitably to an unacceptable dualism, because realism distinguishes two categories: real things (material) and perceived things (immaterial). This dichotomy is unacceptable because it creates an unsolvable mystery: we have no way to understand how a thing in one category could affect a thing in the other category. By dividing the subject matter, dualism renders the science incoherent. Someone who asserts that only material things exist (Hobbes, according to Hocutt) is not espousing realism, but monism, and in monism, which assumes only one type of stuff or world, the terms material and immaterial have no meaning. Behavior analysis can advance as the study of behavior in relation to environment, past and present, without having to wait for advances in neurophysiology. Neurophysiology has not yet advanced to the point where behavior analysis can benefit from what it says about the nervous system. Someday neurophysiology may help to understand how the brain participates in behavior, and behavior analysis will be able to tell neurophysiologists what phenomena need to be explained.

Baum, William M. (2018) Berkeley, realism, and dualism: Reply to Hocutt’s “George Berkeley resurrected: A commentary on Baum’s “Ontology for behavior analysis.” Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 58-62

Christofidou, Andrea (2018) Descartes’ Dualism versus Behaviourism. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 63-99

Abstract: My analysis straddles Descartes’ metaphysics and some parts of contemporary philosophy, especially regarding consciousness, and aims to show that once our understanding is freed from philosophical habits that affect current debates, Descartes’ views offer an opportunity to draw important insights. Primarily, I examine Descartes’ mind-body dualism and contrast it with behaviourism, particularly with philosophical behaviourism, focusing on Gilbert Ryle’s dispositional behaviourism and his attacks on Descartes’ dualism. The discussion takes the form of Objections and Replies, presenting the two thinkers in some sort of dialogue with one another. This bring out clearly who is distorting our ordinary language, violating the logical geography of concepts, committing a category mistake, and systematically misleading us. Ryle’s two well-known accusations – the category mistake, and the dogma of the ghost in the machine – are turned, by a reductio ad absurdum, against his own commitments, leading to an evaluation of his highly paradoxical view, and showing how it collapses in on itself. The closing parts touch upon, but do not pursue, some fundamental concerns about personhood and the self, the metaphysics of mind, freedom, and moral significance, and raise the question of what our deepest concerns and responsibility in the twenty-first century must be.

Christofidou, Andrea (2018) Descartes’ Dualism versus Behaviourism. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 63-99

Rachlin, Howard (2018) Skinner (1938) and Skinner (1945). Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 100-113

Abstract: Skinner’s first book, Behavior of Organisms (1938), views psychology as the study of the behavior of the “organism as a whole.” Such a conception excludes internal events such as neural states or covert muscular movements (parts of the organism) from behavior analysis. Skinner’s article, The Operational Analysis of Psychological Terms (1945) retracts this exclusion in that it hypothesizes covert behavior (behavior of part of the organism) in behavioral analysis of psychological (i.e., mental) terms. The present article argues that this retraction was a mistake. If one takes a wider, molar view of behavior, there is no need to hypothesize internal events in the behavioral analysis of mental terms. Psychological (that is, mental) terms may be understood as patterns of overt behavior of whole organisms—and are no less real, no less subject to behavior analysis, for that.

Rachlin, Howard (2018) Skinner (1938) and Skinner (1945). Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 100-113

Kitchener, Richard F. (2018) Epistemological Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 114-151

Abstract: Traditionally, philosophical epistemologists have been committed to a 1st-person internalist, Cartesian point of view. But numerous individuals have criticized such an assumption, suggesting instead the adoption of a 3rd-person, externalist behaviorist point of view, a view some have called epistemological behaviorism. But what such an epistemology would be has not been adequately discussed, including its underlying epistemology, and its connection to a behaviorist psychology. To contribute to such a clarification, I present a brief survey of the main philosophical representatives of such an account: Richard Rorty, Gilbert Ryle, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Willard Quine, and Wilfrid Sellars. The main area of agreement between these individuals is the following: Epistemological behaviorism is the theory that knowledge should be seen in a behavioristic way, not characterized as something inside the mind of the individual—not the Cartesian 1st-peson perspective, but something external—the 2nd- and 3rd-person perspectives. Knowledge is fundamentally behavioral in nature, whether actual current public behavior or contained in behavioral dispositions. Such epistemic behavior can be individual or interindividual (social). Hence, private epistemic behavior, if it exists, is of a secondary nature, deriving from the original public domain and dependent on it. In the future development of this view, several problems remain to be solved.

Kitchener, Richard F. (2018) Epistemological Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 46, 114-151

Behavior and Philosophy, Volume 45 (2017)

Burgos, José (2017) Editorial. i-iii.

From Dr. José E. Burgos

This is the first volume of Behavior and Philosophy published during my tenure as editor. The volume includes one voluntary submission (Lazzeri’s paper) and five special invited papers (the rest of the papers). In a way, then, this is almost a special issue. The papers discuss various topics, from the nature and epistemic role of postulated internal mental states to parsimony, theoretical behaviorism, methodological considerations in clinical psychology, the ontology of behavior analysis, and free will in relation to the argument from responsibility. All of the papers are engaging and thought-provoking. Readers (including the authors themselves) are welcome to submit brief commentaries to these papers (about 1,500 words, not counting title or references; no abstract needed; only one target paper per commentator). Submitted commentaries will be treated as normal submissions and subject to a review process. If the commentaries are accepted, the authors of the target papers will have the chance to reply. As a novelty, and if logistically viable, we will contemplate the possibility of a brief dialogue between the authors and the commentators, where the latter might have the chance to reply to the replies, and the authors of the target paper to reply again (authors will have the last word of the exchange). We will see. No promises. Just an idea that we might consider for future volumes.


Lazzeri, Filipe (2017) Extended Functionalism From A Behavioral Perspective. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 1-21

Abstract: Mental (or psychological) phenomena (those we refer to by means of terms from so-called folk psychology; e.g., intentions, fears, reasoning processes) are often thought of as confined to the insides of the body. The extended mind view, like behavioral approaches, challenges this assumption, by claiming that some mental phenomena comprise external ingredients. Yet, unlike behavioral approaches, the extended mind view (e.g., as in Clark & Chalmers’ seminal paper) holds that these phenomena often, or depending on the category of mental phenomena always, happen inside the body altogether (which is acknowledged by certain behavioral approaches) and as non-behavioral causes of behaviors (an idea in general rejected by behavioral approaches). This paper highlights what I think are shortcomings of the extended mind view, with a focus upon the functionalist version thereof–extended functionalism. I suggest that this approach misses some major features of psychological concepts, and that it overlooks some behaviors as constituents of mental phenomena. The paper also suggests that a behavioral alternative, based upon contributions by Ryle and Skinner, among others, retains the qualities of extended functionalism while warding off its shortcomings.



Lazzeri, Filipe (2017) Extended Functionalism From A Behavioral Perspective. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 1-21

Sober, Eliott (2017) Methodological Behaviorism, Causal Chains, and Causal Forks. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 22-26

Abstract:  B.F. Skinner argued that in a causal chain from an environmental cause, E, to an inner state, I, and then to a behavior, B, the prediction, explanation, and control of B can be achieved better by focusing on the environmental cause, E, than by focusing on the inner state, I. In particular, he claims that the observable relationship of E to B is not affected by whether the inner state, I, exists.  The present paper evaluates Skinner’s claims and then shifts from a causal chain to a different causal arrangement, wherein two environmental states, E1 and E2, each causally contribute to a behavior, B.  In this case, postulating an inner state, I, that is caused by both E1 and E2, and which causes I, affects one’s predictions concerning the relationship between environment and behavior.



Sober, Eliott (2017) Methodological Behaviorism, Causal Chains, and Causal Forks. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 22-26

Staddon, John (2017) Theoretical Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 27-44

Abstract: B. F. Skinner’s radical behaviorism has been highly successful experimentally, revealing new phenomena with new methods. But Skinner’s dismissal of theory limited its development. Theoretical behaviorism recognizes that a historical system, an organism, has a state as well as sensitivity to stimuli and the ability to emit responses. Indeed, Skinner himself acknowledged the possibility of what he called “latent” responses in humans, even though he neglected to extend this idea to rats and pigeons. Latent responses constitute a repertoire, from which operant reinforcement can select. The paper describes some applications of theoretical behaviorism to operant learning.



Staddon, John (2017) Theoretical Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 27-44

O’Donohue, William, Casas, Jena B., Szoke, Daniel R., Cheung, Dominique, Hmaidan, Reem I., Burleigh, Kenneth J. (2017) Scientific Progress in Clinical Psychology and Epistemically Virtuous Research. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 45-63

Abstract: Meehl (1978) argued that clinical psychology has made slow scientific progress and in the subsequent forty years this situation unfortunately has not changed. This paper argues that the reasons for this slow progress is that science in clinical psychology is not being conducted well. Part of the problem is that the standard view that science controls for human cognitive weaknesses such as confirmation bias is too narrow. We argue that increased scientific progress may be achieved by conducting better science along four dimensions: 1) use of severe tests in the Neo-Popperian sense; 2) testing hypotheses of higher empirical content; 3) an increased orientation toward, and clarity of, problem solving in research; and 4) executing these with increased epistemic virtue, particularly in the design and reporting of such tests. Good science may require good character and a proper appraisal of research may require increased attention to relevant epistemic virtues.



O’Donohue, William, Casas, Jena B., Szoke, Daniel R., Cheung, Dominique, Hmaidan, Reem I., Burleigh, Kenneth J. (2017) Scientific Progress in Clinical Psychology and Epistemically Virtuous Research. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 45-63

Baum, William M. (2017) Ontology For Behavior Analysis: Not Realism, Classes, Or Objects, But Individuals And Processes. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 64-78

Abstract: Realism, defined as belief in a real world separate from perception, is incompatible with a science of behavior. Alternatives to it include Eastern philosophy, which holds that the world is only perception, and pragmatism, which dismisses the belief as irrelevant. The reason realism is incompatible with a science of behavior is that separating perception of objects from real objects leads directly to subjective-objective or inner-outer dualism. This dualism, in turn, leads directly to mentalism, the practice of offering inner entities as explanations of behavior. Positing unobservable causes renders a science incoherent. Ontology for behavior requires two distinctions: (a) between classes and individuals; and (b) between objects and processes. These distinctions allow a workable ontology in which behavior consists of activities that are extended in time (i.e., processes) and are ontological individuals—functional wholes with parts that also are activities. Such an ontology provides coherence to a science of behavior.



Baum, William M. (2017) Ontology For Behavior Analysis: Not Realism, Classes, Or Objects, But Individuals And Processes. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 64-78

Hocutt, Max (2017) Just Responsibility. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 79-89

Abstract: It is generally assumed that responsibility for one’s deeds should be assessed using a priori legal and moral standards. However, we know no such standards. Therefore, we must use our own man-made standards. Accordingly, the empirical meaning of being responsible is liability under the applicable rules to being held responsible. Responsibility is assigned, not discovered.



Hocutt, Max (2017) Just Responsibility. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 79-89