Behaviorism: A Conceptual Reconstruction

By G. E. Zuriff | Go to book overview

Disentangling the Issues
It is clear from the preceding discussion that the debate between S-R and S- S theories of learning is a tangle of several empirical and conceptual issues. Separating them helps clarify the debate:
1. Does a theory of behavior require a response-term? This seems to be a conceptual question, and if the goal of a theory is determinate deductions of statements about behavior, then the answer is "yes." In this sense every behavioral theory should be an S-R theory.
2. Does this response-term have to appear in the theory's principles of learning, or can it appear elsewhere in the theory? This, too, seems to be a conceptual question, and the answer is "It's up to the theorist." At this point it is not known how the logical location of the response-term in a theoretical network bears on the adequacy of the theory. An S-R theory with respect to this issue is one that includes the response-term in its learning principles.
3. When a learning operation occurs, are its effects restricted to afferent processes or are efferent processs involved also? This is an empirical question about neurophysiology. An S-R theory with respect to this question is one which asserts that learning does involve efferent processes.
4. Can learning occur as a result of an event not involving the occurrence of the acquired response? This is also an empirical question. From a number of animal experiments as well as everyday experience, it appears that learning through mere observation does occur. With regard to this question, an S-R theory is one that denies learning of this sort is possible. 72
5. If observational learning is possible, is it a primitive principle or is it derivable from principles which do include the occurrence of a response as critical to the learning operation? This question is quasi-empirical because it involves not only matters of fact but also the ingenuity of theorists in formulating comprehensive principles that encompass many forms of learning. An S-R theory with respect to this issue claims that the phenomena of observational learning, such as latent learning and modeling, are derivable from learning principles involving response events.

CONCLUSION

One interpretation of S-R psychology identifies it with the S-R reflex thesis. In its strict form, this identification is invalid simply because major behaviorist theories do not view behavior as consisting of responses elicited by stimuli. One alternative is to disassociate behaviorism from S-R psychology. The other is to liberalize the S-R reflex thesis to cover behaviorist psychology. Following the latter route, the S-R reflex thesis emerges as the assertion that behavior is determined by the environment (or that behavior and the en

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Behaviorism: A Conceptual Reconstruction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 General Overview 1
  • Part I the Science 11
  • Chapter 2 Observation: the Case Against Introspection 13
  • Conclusion 28
  • Chapter 3: The Behavioral Data Language 29
  • Chapter 4 Theoretical Concepts 55
  • Chapter 5: Theorizing 81
  • Part II Behavior 97
  • Chapter 6 S-R 99
  • Conclusion 117
  • Chapter 7: The Organization of Behavior 119
  • Chapter 8: Complex Processes 150
  • Part III Mind 173
  • Conclusion 199
  • Chapter 10: Behavioral Interpretation 201
  • Chapter 11 First-Person Reports 225
  • Conclusion 248
  • Chapter 12: Behavioral Epistemology 250
  • Notes 279
  • References Cited 317
  • Index 363
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