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.


2012 Theory and Philosophy Conference

Event Details

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Invited Symposium #2
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Consciousness and Private Events
Saturday, November 3, 2012
8:30 AM–11:00 AM
Zuni Ballroom
Area: TPC; Domain: Service Delivery
Discussant: Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico)
CE Instructor: Michael J. Dougher, Ph.D.

Consciousness and Private Events

Methodological Behaviorism and Private Behavioral Events as a Radical Behaviorist Views Them
JAY MOORE (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
Abstract: Methodological behaviorism is the name for a prescriptive orientation to psychological science. The principal feature of methodological behaviorism concerns verbal processes and the meaning of "psychological" terms and concepts. According to this feature, the only psychological terms that psychologists should deploy in their theories and explanations are those that are based on observable stimuli and behavior. Throughout the years, the phrase "based on" has been interpreted in at least three different ways. One interpretation required psychologists to remain formally silent on causal mental terms. A second allowed psychologists to appeal indirectly to causal mental terms, but required that they logically connect the terms to observables through exhaustive operational definitions. A third allowed psychologists to appeal indirectly to causal mental terms, but required that they logically connect the terms to observables through partial operational definitions. We conclude that methodological behaviorism is more closely tied to mentalism than to the radical behaviorism of B. F. Skinner.
Jay Moore received his master's degree from Western Michigan University in 1969, where his adviser was Dr. David Lyon. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 1975, where his adviser was Dr. Edmund Fantino. Dr. Moore is on the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he has been since 1977. His principal professional interests are in the experimental analysis of behavior and the theoretical-philosophical-conceptual analysis of behavior. He is the author of Conceptual Foundations of Radical Behaviorism. Dr. Moore has been a member of ABAI since 1977 and has served as editor of The Behavior Analyst, coordinator for ABAI's Accreditation and Professional Standards Board, and on the ABAI Executive Council—including a term as president.
Consciousness and Behavior
HOWARD RACHLIN (Stony Brook University)
Abstract: Historically, consciousness has been viewed as a spiritual occurrence within the body. Modern philosophers and psychologists who reject the spiritual view (behaviorists among them) nevertheless follow spiritual theories by identifying consciousness with intrinsically private events inside the body—usually covert behavior such as talking to yourself (subvocal speech) and picturing objects and events to yourself. This view has many logical and empirical problems. Dr. Rachlin will present another behavioral view. He will argue that consciousness consists of overt, intrinsically observable behavioral patterns extended in time—behavior of the organism as a whole. In the words of one modern philosopher, "consciousness is more like a dance than digestion." This concept of consciousness avoids the pitfalls of other theories. Although it disagrees with common introspection, introspection as a method of ascertaining psychological truth (or the meaning of psychological terms) is typically, and correctly, rejected by behaviorists.
Howard Rachlin obtained a Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard University in 1965. He is currently a research professor and an emeritus distinguished professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has published more than 100 articles, written six books including Behavior and Mind and The Science of Self-Control, and edited two other books. He has served on study sections for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). He is on the editorial boards of six journals. Since he received his Ph.D. his research (on choice, self-control, social cooperation, and experimental economics) has been continuously supported by grants from NIH and NSF including an NIH MERIT award. Among other honors, he has been elected a fellow at the American Psychological Society and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. He has been the recipient of a James McKeen Cattell Fellowship (1975–76) and an Award for the Impact of Science on Application from SABA (2005). He was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1988–89) and an invited speaker at the Nobel Symposium on Behavioral and Experimental Economics in Stockholm, Sweden (2001).



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