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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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Ninth International Conference; Paris, France; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #64
CE Offered: BACB
The Language of Philosophy, Research, and Practice
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Loft B, Niveau 3
CE Instructor: Mitch Fryling, Ph.D.
Chair: Mitch Fryling (California State University, Los Angeles)
Discussant: Peter R. Killeen (Arizona State University)
Abstract: Scientists talk in a variety of ways. Some scientists primarily participate in philosophical discourse, whereas others may focus on research, and still others primarily apply the science in practice settings. By and large, workers in these different areas tend to speak in different ways, and this is likely related to their different aims. The present symposium involves two presentations which directly address ways of speaking about events in science, including common confusions engendered by different ways of speaking, and ways in which progress may be both stunted and enhanced by these different ways of speaking. The first presentation focuses on the relationship between philosophical discourse and investigation specifically, calling into question the extent to which philosophical discourse amounts to nothing more than talk and no action. The second presentation focuses on the relationship between theory and practice, and specifically, the extent to which different ways of speaking about different practices can both compromise and strengthen scientific progress. A discussant will provide commentary on these issues. It is hoped that attention to these topics will stimulate further conceptual work, research, and practice in the field of behavior analysis.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
All Talk and No Action?
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Sciences subjected to formal system building operations find their enterprises articulated in a collection of constructs serving to identify their unique subject matters, coupled with sets of premises pertaining to their origins, developments, structures, and relations with the subject matters of other sciences. This is what would ordinarily be called the philosophy of a systematic science. In accord with this philosophy and guided by it are organizations of specialized activity comprising the remaining aspects of a scientific enterprise, namely its investigative, interpretive and applied sub-domains. The manner in which the subject matter of a science is handled, including the terminology with which its operations are described, vary across these domains. For example, in the language of investigation, psychological events exhibit dependency relations; while in philosophical discourse, their interdependence is asserted. Failure to appreciate this variance, especially when the investigative domain of a science is over-valued, engenders spurious arguments among scientists. This paper addresses arguments of this sort among psychological scientists of the behavioral and interbehavioral varieties wherein the latter are held by the former to be all talk and no action. The aim of this paper is to dispel this confusion.
Theories in Practice - Is it all Just Semantics?
MITCH FRYLING (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: The growth and development of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has led to widespread dissemination efforts around the globe. While this is a good thing, there have been a number of somewhat unforeseen consequences related to the rapid growth of ABA. This presentation describes the role of theories in the practice of ABA. The example of autism treatment will be considered as an example, especially the great variety of seemingly different more or less behavioral treatments, each with their own unique labels and descriptions. The implications of talking about interventions in this way are considered, and the eventual impact on science and clinical work is described. Ultimately, the audience is cautioned against placing too much emphasis on the language used to describe various intervention packages and urged to pursue a behavioral analysis of such packages. The perceived value of doing so rests upon an understanding of how scientific disciplines make progress, which will be a recurrent theme throughout the presentation. Surely, it isnt all just semantics, for descriptions of things impact how we respond to those things, including what research questions we ask about them, eventually impacting the clinical services we provide.


Modifed by Eddie Soh