References of Place (1984a). Logic, reference and mentalism: a comment on B.F.Skinner, 'The operational analysis of psychological terms'.
Cohen, L. J. (1981). Can human irrationality be experimentally demonstrated? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(3), 317-331. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00009092
[Abstract]The object of this paper is to show why recent research in the psychology of deductive and probabilistic reasoning does not have "bleak implications for human rationality," as has sometimes been supposed. The presence of fallacies in reasoning is evaluated by referring to normative criteria which ultimately derive their own credentials from a systematisation of the intuitions that agree with them. These normative criteria cannot be taken, as some have suggested, to constitute a part of natural science, nor can they be established by metamathematical proof. Since a theory of competence has to predict the very same intuitions, it must ascribe rationality to ordinary people. Accordingly, psychological research on this topic falls into four categories. In the first, experimenters investigate conditions under which their subjects suffer from genuine cognitive illusions. The search for explanations of such performance errors may then generate hypotheses about the ways in which the relevant information-processing mechanisms operate. In the second category, experimenters investigate circumstances in which their subjects exhibit mathematical or scientific ignorance: these are tests of the subjects' intelligence or education. In the third and fourth categories, experimenters impute a fallacy where none exists, either because they are applying the relevant normative criteria in an inappropriate way or because the normative criteria being applied are not the appropriate ones.
[1 referring publications by Place]
Place, U. T. (1981a). Skinner's Verbal Behavior I - why we need it. Behaviorism, 9, 1-24. www.jstor.org/stable/27758970
[Abstract]To explain behaviour in terms of intensional or mentalistic concepts is to explain the behaviour in question on the assumption of a consistent and rational connection between what the agent does and what he says or what is said to him and that therefore any general account of verbal or linguistic behaviour which employs such concepts is necessarily circular, since it explains the acquisition of linguistic skills on the assumption that the speaker already possesses such skills. It follows that this circularity can only be avoided by developing a theory of verbal or linguistic behaviour which is stated entirely in a nonintensional or extensional language. At the present time, the most developed conceptual system for description and explanation of the behaviour of organisms at the molar level in purely extensional terms is that provided by the so-called ‘Radical Behaviorism’ of B. F. Skinner and his followers. Furthermore, in his book Verbal Behavior Skinner (1957) has used this conceptual framework to develop a theory of verbal or linguistic behaviour which represents the most ambitious attempt made so far to formulate a theory of linguistic behaviour in nonintensional or extensional terms.
Revised version is from 1999.
[References] [6 citing publications] [11 referring publications by Place]
Download: 1981a 1999 Skinner's Verbal Behavior I - Why We Need It - revised version.pdf
Place, U. T. (1981b). Skinner's Verbal Behavior II - what is wrong with it. Behaviorism, 9, 131-152. www.jstor.org/stable/27758982
[Abstract]Skinner's Verbal Behavior as it stands suffers from four major defects. (1) Skinner fails to do justice to the distinction between words which are the repeated and repeatable units of verbal behaviour, but which have a function only in so far as they contribute to the function of the sentences in which they occur, and the sentences themselves which are the functional units of verbal behaviour, but which are seldom repeated word for word either in the mouth of the speaker or in the hearing of the listener. (2) The account given by Skinner of the listener's response to the verbal operant and of the concept of "the discriminative stimulus" which he deploys in this connection is seriously inadequate. (3) Skinner's concept of "the tact" involves a confusion between tacts as words and tacts as sentences. Tacts as words, i.e. names and general terms, designate recurrent features of the common stimulus environment of speaker and listener, both general and particular and contrast with autoclitic words whose function is purely intra-sentential. Tacts as sentences on the other hand are functionally complete verbal operants corresponding to the grammatical concept of an assertion, which act for the benefit of the listener and contrast with mands, sentence utterances corresponding to the imperatives and interrogatives of grammar and logic, which typically act for the benefit of the speaker. (4) Skinner's account fails to do justice to the all-important logical distinction between those tact sentence utterances or assertions which are true and on which the listener can consequently rely and those which are false and therefore unreliable as a source of information from the standpoint of the listener.
[References] [9 citing publications] [10 referring publications by Place] [Is replied by]
Download: 1981b Skinner’s Verbal Behavior II – what is wrong with it.pdf
Ryle, G. (1949). The Concept of Mind. Hutchinson.
[83 referring publications by Place]
Skinner, B. F. (1945). The operational analysis of psychological terms. Psychological Review, 52, 270-277, 291-294. doi:10.1037/h0062535
[Abstract]The major contributions of operationism have been negative, largely because operationists failed to distinguish logical theories of reference from empirical accounts of language. Behaviorism never finished an adequate formulation of verbal reports and therefore could not convincingly embrace subjective terms. But verbal responses to private stimuli can arise as social products through the contingencies of reinforcement arranged by verbal communities. In analyzing traditional psychological terms, we need to know their stimulus conditions (“finding the referent”), and why each response is controlled by that condition. Consistent reinforcement of verbal responses in the presence of stimuli presupposes stimuli acting upon both the speaker and the reinforcing community, but subjective terms, which apparently are responses to private stimuli, lack this characteristic. Private stimuli are physical, but we cannot account for these verbal responses by pointing to controlling stimuli, and we have not shown how verbal communities can establish and maintain the necessary consistency of reinforcement contingencies. Verbal responses to private stimuli may be maintained through appropriate reinforcement based on public accompaniments, or through reinforcements accorded responses made to public stimuli, with private cases then occurring by generalization. These contingencies help us understand why private terms have never formed a stable and uniform vocabulary: It is impossible to establish rigorous vocabularies of private stimuli for public use, because differential reinforcement cannot be made contingent upon the property of privacy. The language of private events is anchored in the public practices of the verbal community, which make individuals aware only by differentially reinforcing their verbal responses with respect to their own bodies. The treatment of verbal behavior in terms of such functional relations between verbal responses and stimuli provides a radical behaviorist alternative to the operationism of methodological behaviorists.
Reprinted in Skinner (1959). Cumulative Record. Reprinted: (1984). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 7(4), 547-553. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00027321 Reprinted in Catania & Harnad (1988). The selection of behavior. The operant behaviorism of B. F. Skinner: Comments and consequences.
[5 referring publications by Place] [Is replied by] [2 reprinting collections]
Skinner, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of reinforcement. Appleton-Century-Crofts.
[32 referring publications by Place]