death of the mind.

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore2 at
Sun Jul 18 12:34:29 EST 2004

Leaster: The problem is that the behavioist position we see is not that the
environment is an essential feature of any theory of behavior but that the
environment is the exclusive determinant of behavior, period.

GS: This is true, but it requires some comment. Human behavior can be viewed
as an interaction of four environments: natural selection, cultural
selection, personal history, and the current environment. Here, the term
"current environment" can refer to variables other than "stimuli" and may
include variables such as drugs (see below).

Leaster: And it is my impression that as a philosophy of behavior analysis,
behaviorism cannot be invalidated. Behaviorists simply expand definitions to
include whatever behavioral determinants eventuate.

GS: So, what you are saying is that what behaviorists say about their
subject matter depends on the outcome experiments? Yeah, boy are they

Leaster: We already see the transfiguration of behaviorist legerdemain to
include physiological interactions.

GS: You should clarify what you mean here. IMO, it is correct to say that
some stuff that we usually regard as "physiological" are included in
"behavior" when what is measured can be shown to be sensitive to behavioral
manipulations, like contingencies. For example, in the "Hefferline
Experiments" the response that was reinforced could only be detected with
apparatus that measures electrical activity of a few motor units.

Leaster: Under such criteria, what are not behaviorist experimental
environmental independent variables?

GS: Oh, you're talking about independent variables. I'd guess that you are
talking about the fact that I have talked about drug effects. Variables like
type of drug, dose, route of administration, etc. are pharmacological
independent variables (not really "physiological;" these variables also, of
course, affect physiology). But I fail to see any importance of your point.
In JEAB, for example, papers are published where the focus is on the interac
tion of pharmacological and behavioral variables. JEAB would probably not
publish a paper were, for example, one simply used behavior maintained under
a particular schedule of reinforcement to look at agonist/antagonist

Leaster: Once again my impression is that the typical behaviorist would just
respond that any experimentally observable factors are behaviorist
environmental factors. But that just regresses the scientific analysis to
the nature and experimental observability of environmental factors. Then
we're back to the lab coat, forceps, electrode, stopwatch, and log sheet
definition of environmental behavioral experimentation.

GS: Gibberish again.

Leaster: The difficulty is that behaviorism is a philosophy and not a
science of behavioral analysis. So the results of behaviorist
experimentation do not confirm or deny behaviorism.

GS: But the results of scientific experiments rarely, in the sense you mean
it, change the assumptions underlying a scientific endeavor.

Leaster: They don't confirm or deny anything except experimental
circumstances and behavioral results.

GS: No, the results can confirm or deny specific hypotheses. But specific
hypotheses are not the assumptions of a science, even though they
(hypotheses) are couched in terms of the underlying concepts. This is not to
imply that behavior analysis is about hypothesis testing as a general
strategy, though this is increasingly the case as everyone "goes
quantitative" in the EAB.

Leaster: But they don't explain anything else in the sense of showing where
those results come from to the exclusion of other possibilities.

GS: Not sure I can see what you mean here; "they," in your sentence, refers
to the "results obtained by the experimental analysis of behavior." That is,
you said: "So the results of behaviorist experimentation do not confirm or
deny behaviorism." So, if we put in "the results," your "insight" becomes:
"But the results don't explain anything else in the sense of showing where
those results come from to the exclusion of other possibilities." The
results don't explain the results - I'd have to agree with that. But, wouldn
't that be true by definition? And thus true for any science? Good
experiments demonstrate, whether they are hypothesis-testing or not, that
changes in the dependent variable are the result of changes in the dependent

Leaster: You ascribe this to the general primitive state of behavior
analysis. I ascribe it to the primitive generality of philosophical
materialism. Darwin had no dogmatic foundation for his evolutionary theories
and observations that I'm aware of. And it's materialist dogma that Lester
et al. complain about in connection with behaviorism as a philosophy.

GS: More gibberish.

"Lester Zick" <lesterDELzick at> wrote in message
news:40fa8031.19919102 at

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