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Ninth International Conference; Paris, France; 2017

Event Details

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Paper Session #101
Historical Review and Challenges to B.F. Skinner
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Forum GHIJ, Niveau 1
Area: PRA
Chair: Cesar Antonio Alves da Rocha (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)
Changes in B. F. Skinner's Behaviorism
Domain: Theory
KRISTJAN GUDMUNDSSON (Reykjavik University)
Abstract: It is generally accepted that B. F. Skinner first approach to behaviorism was closely related to Pavlov's reflexology and that he, at some point, distanced himself from that Stimulus-Response theory, especially with his theory of operant behavior. When exactly that occurred is debatable, however. Some argue that this occurred quite early in his career, while others argue that this happened alter and gradually. Instead of positioning myself somewhere on that continuum, I will address the issue conceptually. The question then becomes when and how did Skinner change his basic concepts, from those that derive from a simple stimulus-response model towards what in the end became the modern day experimental analysis of behavior. Put differently, when did Skinner amend his conceptual apparatus, in relation to the fact that his theory was no longer a pavlovian theory, but a full blown functional account of behavior? To answer that Skinner's basic theoretical terms are presented as they originally appeared and an attempt made to describe the gradual change towards his final version of radical behaviorism. At the end of the lecture an attempt will be made to suggest how this gradual change has continued and what an experimental and functional analysis of behavior will look like in the future.
Edgar Morin and Skinner: Antagonism and Complementarity Between the Paradigms of "Complex Thinking" and "Behavior Analysis"
Domain: Theory
NUNO MARTINS SILVA (emmeritus Faculty of Psychology Lisbon University Portugal)
Abstract: Both, Skinner and Morin, point to a possibility of a better world were human beings would fulfil their potentialities in love, science, art and wisdom. Both agree that the progress to a "good life" is not assured, but that we must put all our efforts to reach this objective. They diverge about the means to reach that end. For Skinner, "only science can save us, if we are to be saved." Morin, however, asserts that there is no salvation, neither from science, nor religion or politics. "We are definitively lost." It is only when we recognize that condition, that we begin to value being in earth and begin to experiment a universal fraternity with our human brothers and sisters.
Utopian Thinking in the Twentieth Century: Insights From B. F. Skinner and Isaiah Berlin
Domain: Theory
CESAR ANTONIO ALVES DA ROCHA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos (Federal University of Sao Carlos - Brazil))
Abstract: The twentienth century was a period in which expressions of hope for a better future unfolded in contrasting ways. Especially after World War II, hope for the achievement of a perfect society faded, with the proliferation of literary dystopias as an expression of hopelessness. Some of those dystopias have portrayed a specific disenchantment over science and its role for changing the world. Notwithstanding, there were also fierce defenders of science as an important tool that should shed light for the path for world's improvement. Two great thinkers have had several insights on this, equally brilliant, although relatively contrasting: B. F. Skinner and Isaiah Berlin. While Skinner openly criticized anti-utopianism and proposed an experimental stance for the reform of society, Berlin inquired into the motives of the decline of utopian ideas, concluding that much of it was due to the disregard for pluralism as a value. In this presentation, I will explore in detail some of the insights offered by Skinner and Berlin on utopianism and its fallout. After that, I will show how despite obvious divergences, there are ideas of the two of them that could positively inform and enhance each other, contributing for the achievement of their humanistic goals.
B.F. Skinner: The Man: Skinner's Experience In The 1970s Of Making A Film Biography
Domain: Theory
Abstract: In the early 1970s a psychologist/filmmaker from UCLA began making a biographical film with B.F. Skinner. The Harvard University Archives contain correspondence between Skinner, the filmmaker, producer and other participants in the film. These letters document a multi-year process that transforms from initial enthusiasm to ultimate frustration. The Harvard Film Archive contains the actual raw footage from the production and serve as a sort of ethnography of the film project. This paper is developed from research for a new film biography and traces the 1970s filmmaking process, making special note of previously unavailable interviews with Skinner's colleagues, including W.V.O. Quine, and describing the difficulty of differentiating the person from the science and the science from the philosophy. Additionally, a comparison is drawn between the problems in making the film and the contemporary project of disseminating Behavior Analysis. The presentation will include previously unavailable footage from the film and correspondence from the archive relating to the filming process and Skinner's critique of how the science is described.


Modifed by Eddie Soh