Academic journal article Behavior and Philosophy (Online)

Challenges in Concluding a Research Program: Some Reflections on Reviewer Comments regarding "Cyberrat, Ibsa, and a 'Turing Test' Trilogy"

Academic journal article Behavior and Philosophy (Online)

Challenges in Concluding a Research Program: Some Reflections on Reviewer Comments regarding "Cyberrat, Ibsa, and a 'Turing Test' Trilogy"

Article excerpt

I am very grateful to the present reviewers (Iversen, 2011/2012; Lewon, Munoz Blanco, & Hayes, 2011/2012; Phelps, 2011/2012) who accepted the challenge of commenting in print on my CyberRat/Turing-Test monograph. Of the dozen reviewer invitations that were distributed, most had sound reasons for being declined. But these brave few colleagues accepted, and I fully appreciate the difficulties of their task. In fact, as I emphasize in the monograph's Author's Note, I struggled myself with this manuscript over a period of several years. That struggle didn't rise so much from the points I wanted to make as it did from the fact that so many of the points had previously been made elsewhere during my thirty-eight year journey from the first Ray and Brown (1975) publication to this concluding statement on Interbehavioral Systems Analysis (IBSA) as a methodology. I'm not likely to publish much more on the IBSA approach other than what follows here, as I believe I've said about all that I have to say on the topic through one publication or another. And therein lies my problem in writing such a "concluding" monograph.

Throughout the effort of writing it I struggled most with my desire to include too much that had already been said long before the monograph was conceived. In fact, if I were reviewing the monograph as an outsider, I think my own primary criticism would focus on how little of the IBSA methodology that the monograph aspires to validate is actually articulated in the monograph itself. Thus it is an easy mistake to read the monograph and believe, as Phelps (2011/2012) states, that "Ray makes the point that interbehavioral psychology never formally developed a methodology" (p. 311). What I really noted was the fact that Kantor himself never developed one (e.g., Moore, 1984). I hope my own research program has offered some small contributions to remedying that shortcoming in Kantor's (1958) original interbehavioral approach.

This point is an easy oversight to make, for not only is Ray and Delprato (1989)-itself a lengthy treatise-virtually required reading to appreciate some of the finer nuances of IBSA as a broadly applicable methodology, but so too is Ray (1992) required reading if the present monograph's reader is to fully appreciate how descriptions must incorporate not just behavior, but also behavioral fields in sufficient detail to allow for believable visual reconstruction through videoincorporated simulation. Phelps (22011/2012) perhaps comes the closest to articulating such an appreciation when he points out that ". . .a lever in a Skinner box is more than just an abutment that can be depressed; a lever is also an affordance for climbing" (p. 312).

I once described how I gained my own insights regarding enabling properties (Ray, 1992), or those properties that Phelps (2011/2012)-and by implication of Phelps's earlier reference, Gibson (1977)-is calling "affordances." To illustrate my discovery I used the example of a simulation based on crude animations of a cartooned monkey in a cage:

The simulation must begin with not only a selected behavior but also a selected environmental field. The monkey stands, sits, and walks in a specified location. But which needs specification first, the behavior or the location? To answer this, we must determine the mutual enabling functions of each. Walls limit walking (can't go through them) but enable climbing (can climb up them). Open space enables walking, standing, or sitting but disables climbing. Thus we should first specify which environmental field conditions exist, and this will, in turn, access [current note: this original use of the term "access" could easily have been "affords" as Gibson uses the term] quite a different array of behavioral categories defining the kinematic matrix. Open floor space will define stand, sit, and walk possibilities. Walls will define stand, sit, and climb.

But how does the monkey ever leave a wall field without walking? …

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