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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Paper Session #133
The Nonequivalence Between Meaning Relations and Stimulus Equivalence Relations
Saturday, May 29, 2021
4:30 PM–4:55 PM
Area: PCH
Chair: Elberto Plazas (PENDING)

The Nonequivalence Between Meaning Relations and Stimulus Equivalence Relations

Domain: Theory
ELBERTO PLAZAS (Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz)

The stimulus equivalence relation (SER) has been for the last decades the main empirical and conceptual paradigm from a behavior-analytic standpoint for the study of symbolic relations, especially object-word linguistic meaning relations. The SER paradigm assumes that a stimulus equivalence relation emerges between words and their referents, which in turn allows the transfer of stimuli functions between them, which is said to characterize symbolic behavior. Nevertheless, the SER account has been challenged on the grounds that some stimulus functions cannot be transferred from some stimuli to the words that denote them. A typical defense of the SER account is supported in the claim that the transfer of stimulus function is under contextual control. My aim is to argue that the contextual control argument fails to meet its target, and it is incompatible with the very idea of equivalence. Furthermore, important functional asymmetries are present between tacting behavior (thing -> word) and listening behavior (word -> things), asymmetries that are associated with the issues of intentionality and misrepresentation in the philosophy of mind, and the concept of ‘truth’. These observations might have profound implications for the interpretation of basic and applied research based on the SER paradigm.




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