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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Paper Session #56
Int'l Paper Session - Conceptual Foundations of Behavior Analysis
Saturday, May 28, 2005
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Waldorf (3rd floor)
Area: TPC
Chair: Jay Moore (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
On the Nature and Place of Theories in Behavior Science
Domain: Theory
JOSE E. BURGOS (CEIC - University of Guadalajara, Mexico)
Abstract: In this paper, I seek to clarify certain aspects of the debate on the nature and place of theories in behavior science. One clarification is that the phrase “nature of theories” is a misnomer, for it suggests that the disagreement is ontological, in that cognitivists and radical behaviorists propose different real definitions of the concept of theory. However, neither cognitivists nor radical behaviorists have claimed, nor can they claim, to have discovered the essence of theories. Hence, the disagreement cannot be ontological. Rather, cognitivists and radical behaviorists use different nominal definitions of the term “theory”. Both definitions are on equal ontological footing. As an alternative approach, I evaluate the most prominent definientia in and by themselves, in terms of their clarity, precision, and usefulness. I conclude that none of them is adequate, and examine other definientia found in post-positivistic philosophy of science. Regarding the place of theories, I argue that disagreements on their indispensability are largely irresolvable, for they involve counterfactual judgments that are impossible to support empirically. Disagreements on the function of theories are equally irresolvable, for they are given by equally legitimate goals (explanation versus prediction and control).
Skinner and the Development of Radical Behaviorism
Domain: Theory
JAY MOORE (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Abstract: Skinner and the development of radical behaviorism. B. F. Skinner first used the term “radical behaviorism” in his contribution to a symposium on operationism held in 1945. This presentation will examine (a) the historical and conceptual background to the symposium, and (b) the influence of Skinner’s views of verbal behavior on the view of scientific epistemology that he developed in his contribution.



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