Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #18
International Symposium - Development: Conceptual Issues
Saturday, May 26, 2007
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Molly AB
Area: DEV/TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Gary D. Novak (California State University, Stanislaus)
Discussant: Gary D. Novak (California State University, Stanislaus)

This series of three presentations by Per Holth, Martha Pelaez, and Francois Tonneau, along with the discussion by Gary Novak, focusses on basic conceptual issues in the behavior analysis of development. We examine theoretical and empirical problems related to category mistakes in psychology, the nature of causation in developmental behavior analysis, the relations between behavioral description and explanation, and current limitations on behavioral explanations of development. Various isms (from holism to mechanism) make an appearance, but we hope to clarify the isms as well as their relevance to behavior analysis and allied philosophical traditions.

A Booster Injection against Category Mistakes.
PER HOLTH (Akershus University College)
Abstract: Gilbert Ryle (1949) expressed his “destructive purpose” to show that “a family of radical category mistakes” is the source of the “official doctrine,” that is, a “double-life theory,” according to which “with the doubtful exception of idiots and infants in arms every human being has both a body and a mind.” Ryle demonstrated quite forcefully how psychology and philosophy at the time were misled into asking the wrong kinds of questions. Even though Ryle’s simpler examples are easily comprehended, we are still likely to make this type of error when confronted with complex behavior patterns. Several prototypical examples from psychology -and even from behavior analysis- will be considered.
Causal Explanations in Behavioral Development.
MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University)
Abstract: This paper discusses fourth different causes of behavior development from a dynamic systems approach and notes the interrelatedness between description and explanation of behavior change (Pelaez, 2002; Marr, 2003). The case is made that none of these four causal explanations works in isolation-- without specification of the other three. A rationale for embracing both, contextualism as an epistemological tool, and mechanism as an experimental practice in our understanding of these causes is presented. The concept of contextual interacting variables or “interactants” is highlighted as well as the enormous challenges the study of multiple interactions in mother-child research presents to the scientist. I will point to the lack of appropriate methodology for capturing the effects of these multiple interactions and offer some experimental examples.
Development: Tougher Than You Think.
FRANCOIS TONNEAU (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)
Abstract: In this talk I defend two premises and I explore their consequences. The premises are (a) there are developmental facts, and (b) developmental facts call for explanations. Current behavior-analytic concepts certainly can clarify developmental issues, but still fall short of a coherent and complete explanation of development. Future work in developmental behavioral analysis will require serious thinking on the issues of operant reinforcement and induction, temporal scales, mechanisms of behavioral change, structural aspects of behavior, and holism versus elementarism.



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