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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.

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44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #25
Merits and Challenges of Temporally Extended Activities as Functional Units in Behavior Analytic Research
Saturday, May 26, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Grand Ballroom 10-13
Area: PCH/EAB
Chair: Carsta Simon (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)
Discussant: Julian C. Leslie (Ulster University)
Abstract: In this symposium, we discuss how different behavior analytic schools deal with questions concerning what units of behavior may be said to exist and how such units may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided. Baum suggests that an ontology or behavior requires two distinctions: between individuals and classes, and between processes and objects. These distinctions allow a workable ontology in which behavior consists of processes—or of activities extended in time. That is, behavioral units are ontological individuals—functional wholes with parts that also are activities. As part of the endeavor to identify what constitutes ontologically and epistemologically sound units of analysis, Simon investigates verbal behavior in conversations through a selectionist lens. Speech is a natural event that comes down to sounds that affect the behavior of conspecifics. Simon's talk explores how Baum's recommendation to regard activities extended in time as ontological individuals may be applied to verbal behavior. Having conducted experiments designed in Baum's ontological framework, which is viewing behavioral units as functional wholes with parts that also are verbal activities, she discusses the conceptual merits and methodological challenges connected to applying Baum's philosophical analyses to experimental work.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): molar behaviorism, multi-scale selection, ontology, verbal behavior
 
Individuals and Processes: Ontology For Behavior Analysis
(Theory)
WILLIAM M. BAUM (University of California, Davis)
Abstract: Realism, defined as belief in a real world separate from perception, is incompatible with a science of behavior. Alternatives to it include pragmatism, which dismisses the belief as irrelevant, and Eastern philosophy, which holds that the world is only perception. The reason realism is incompatible with a science of behavior is that separating perception of objects from real objects leads directly to subjective-objective or inner-outer dualism. This dualism, in turn, leads directly to mentalism, the practice of offering inner unseen entities as explanations of behavior. Positing unobservable causes (inner entities) renders a science incoherent. Ontology for behavior requires two distinctions: between classes and individuals; and between objects and processes. These distinctions allow a workable ontology in which behavior consists of activities that are extended in time (i.e., processes) and are ontological individuals—that is, functional wholes with parts that also are activities. Such an ontology provides coherence to a science of behavior.
 
On Relating Darwinian Selection to Selection of Verbal Behavior During Our Lifetime
(Theory)
CARSTA SIMON (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)
Abstract: How may Darwinian selection aid our understanding of the selection of behavior during ontogeny? To identify what constitutes ontologically and epistemologically sound units of analysis, I investigate verbal behavior in conversations through a selectionist lens. Speech is a natural event that comes down to sounds that affect the behavior of conspecifics. The talk explores how Baum's multi-scale approach may be applied to verbal behavior. This implies treating larger verbal episodes as wholes, induced by a context and correlating with consequences. Thus, the talk, first, debates theoretical reasons to place verbal behavior in an evolutionary framework by viewing it as shaped by its consequences, through a person's lifetime and through interactions with the environment across many generations of natural selection. Second, the talk exemplifies experimental procedures treating verbal behavior as allocation of time.
 

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