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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Paper Session #235
Conceptual Investigations in Behavioral Theory and Philosophy
Sunday, May 30, 2010
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Bonham B (Grand Hyatt)
Area: TPC
Chair: Sam Leigland (Gonzaga University)
On the Relationship Between Contextual Behavioral Science and Behavior Analysis
Domain: Theory
SAM LEIGLAND (Gonzaga University)
Abstract: As the field of behavior analysis (BA) continues to evolve as a scientific culture, it is not surprising that it may produce a version of cultural mutations, two of which have been proposed or produced over the years. A more recent variation, called contextual behavioral science (CBS) has produced a rapidly growing research literature, and the accompanying field has undergone rapid professional growth. A recent paper by Vilardaga, Hayes, Levin, and Muto (2009) has described philosophical, scientific, and professional characteristics of CBS, and has provided a developmental comparison with BA. The developmental issues addressed include methodological practices and methodological development, explanatory and interpretive practices, and the role of philosophy in a scientific field. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical examination of the central issues of comparative development of the two fields, with a modest assessment of the strengths and needs of each field, and historical, current, and future relations between the two fields. Both fields are facing related (if somewhat different) issues of transition and development, and (in the language of relational frame theory) a frame of coordination (vs. difference or opposition) of scientific cultures will serve the development of a comprehensive analysis of human behavior.
Clarifying Conceptual Confusions About Behavior Analysis: The Natural Science-Natural History Distinction
Domain: Theory
EDWARD K. MORRIS (University of Kansas)
Abstract: This presentation describes how conceptual confusions about behavior analysis can be clarified by the distinction between natural science and natural history. Natural science concerns timeless and universal principles (e.g., operant reinforcement), whereas natural history concerns their temporally constrained and contextually situated products (e.g., operant repertoires and reinforcers). The experimental analysis of behavior, for instance, is a natural science, whereas applied behavior analysis is natural history. Inside the discipline, the natural science-natural history distinction clarifies relations about, for example, the role of biology as a participant in a natural science of behavior, yet as both a participant and independent variable in behavior’s natural history (see also the distinction between nonmediated principles and mediatied natural history). Outside the discipline, the distinction clarifies relations between behavior analysis and, for instance, psychology. Psychology is mainly natural history, not a natural science (e.g., its laws are more statistical norms than basic principles). The distinction also clarifies the meanings of terms such as learning (e.g., as a basic behavioral process and as normative and idiosyncratic behavioral styles). In closing, the presentation addresses problems raised by the science-history distinction (e.g., both are science).
The Concept of Contingency in Three Kinds of Selection
Domain: Theory
SIGRID S. GLENN (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Theoretical frameworks in science derive from intertwined empirical investigation and verbal analysis. Second order analyses, philosophies of science, identify and suggest solutions to philosophical problems raised by particular scientific theories. These include inconsistencies in usage of key terms, problems of classification, and issues pertaining to levels of analysis within and between scientific domains. In 1935, Skinner established the philosophical underpinnings of the experimental analysis of behavior. In subsequent decades, Skinner’s philosophical position evolved as he became increasingly interested in parallels between phylogenic and ontogenic selection contingencies and foresaw the possibility of a third kind of selection. In this paper, we first review the various ways the term contingency has been used in behavior analysis. Then we consider how the concept of contingency might work in a similar way in selectionist accounts of biological, behavioral, and cultural evolution. Finally, we suggest generic terminology for the classes of phenomena entering into selection contingencies at three levels of selection.
A Behavior Analysis of Instinctive Behavior
Domain: Theory
MASAYA SATO (Seisa University)
Abstract: In the framework of behavior analysis, instinctive behavior belongs to respondent behavior. However, instinctive behavior is different from reflexive behavior in two points. First, instinctive behavior cannot be conditioned respondently. Second, instinctive behavior is not elicited but released. Releaser of instinctive behavior is in a sense unconditioned discriminative stimulus. Therefore, respondent behavior must be classified into two kinds, passive respondent behavior that is reflexive behavior, and active respondent behavior that is instinctive behavior.



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