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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Paper Session #424
Behavior Analysis of Cognition and Consciousness
Monday, May 26, 2014
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
W175b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: TPC
Chair: Julian C. Leslie (University of Ulster)

Consciousness: Neuroscience and Behavioral Perspectives

Domain: Theory
JULIAN C. LESLIE (University of Ulster)

Recent developments in neuroscience have greatly increased interest in the study of consciousness, without solving the puzzles about its nature and function. At roughly the same time, considerable debate has been ignited about the role and status of private events in behavior analysis. This paper will summarize some trends in the neuroscience literature, emphasizing the repeated finding that conscious experience does not control behavior and its implications for the nature and function of consciousness. It will go to identify those consciousness--questions on which behavior analysts can agree answers, and those where agreement has not yet been reached. It will be concluded that whereas in the past neither psychology nor behavior analysis courses dealt with consciousness, this is no longer the case in psychology and should not be the case in behavior analysis. We can certainly contribute to the conceptual analysis of consciousness, and that will lead us toward also contributing to its empirical analysis.

The Survival of Behaviorism in the Era of Situated and Embodied Cognition: Time is Ripe for Redefinition
Domain: Theory
ANDRES H. GARCIA-PENAGOS (University of Tennessee), John C. Malone (University of Tennessee)
Abstract: Marr (2001) suggested that to survive and triumph behaviorism must abandon its very name. Marr's is an urgent call to adapt or be selected against, and it is as true and urgent now as it was then. As we celebrate the first official centenary of radical behaviorism as a philosophy of mind and a philosophy of psychology and the 40th anniversary of this convention, the true epistemological and experimental legacy of our predecessors is at risk of dying of starvation, to be remembered only as a collection of techniques and the customary (mis)quote in introductory Psychology textbooks far away from the debate and the production of knowledge in the rest of our discipline. Not surprisingly, despite all of its misgivings, cognitive psychology is quite different today to what it was decades ago and is still in the process of redefinition. Not so with radical behaviorism which remains almost identical, and in which sterile debates continue to be the norm. The new view of mind proposed by the current trends of situated and embodied cognition is not wholly incompatible with our epistemological stance, as these views share the common intellectual ancestry of American pragmatism that is characterized by naturalism, empiricism, metaphysical skepticism, and anti-dualism, and that can be traced from Aristotle and Bacon, to James, Dewey, Holt, and Gibson. In reviewing the commonalities and similarities of this alternative to cognitive science and modern behaviorism, we will also make the case for the limitations and problems that have led to our penchant for "steady-state" theorizing and experimentation. We will emphasize that genuine theoretical dialogue with the rest of psychology is imperative, but it cannot be achieved without redefinition in both our concepts and the types of problems we deal with.



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