4 publications of Place that refer to Canfield (1941). Sex determination of day-old chicks, II. Type variations.
Place, U. T. (1992b). Is there an operant analysis of animal problem-solving? [Conference presentation, presented at 18th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis - May 25-28 1992 - San Francisco, California]. Association for Behavior Analysis. Abstract published in Proceedings of 18th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis - May 25-28 1992 - San Francisco, California (p. 155). Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis.
[Abstract]In 'An operant analysis of problem-solving', Skinner (1966/1969/1988) develops an account of problem-solving based on the distinction between two different ways in which an organism can learn to adapt to environmental contingencies: (1) contingency-shaped behavior in which the behavior of an organism is progressively shaped by repeated exposure to the contingency itself, and (2) rule-governed behavior in which a verbally competent human being adapts to a contingency by constructing a verbal formula or rule which is said to "specify" the contingency in question. A rule may be constructed, as in the case of contingency-shaped behavior, in the light of repeated exposure to the contingency itself. It may equally well be based on information about the contingency supplied by another speaker, on information derived from a written text, or on an inference from other rules derived from any or all these sources. It is this case where the agent infers a new rule tailor-made for the problem with which he/she is confronted that Skinner has in mind in offering an analysis of problem-solving in these terms. There is a growing body of empirical evidence (Hayes 1989) which confirms the accuracy of Skinner's description of problem-solving as it occurs in the case of verbally competent human beings. But animals also solve problems; and so do pre-verbal human infants. This kind of problem-solving cannot simply be a matter of contingency-shaping, though previous contingency-shaped behavior is the only resource from which a pre-verbal organism can draw in selecting an appropriate problem-solving strategy. It requires some mechanism like that which Köhler (1925) refers to as "insight" whereby the stimulus class which currently controls a particular response class is somehow stretched so as to include the current stimulus situation. The case for postulating such a behavior mediating mechanism within the conceptual framework of radical behaviorism is argued by appealing (a) to the analogy between attending behavior and thinking by talking to oneself, and (b) to the process whose existence is implied by Skinner's (1938) account of "stimulus class" whereby an organism learns to break up its stimulus environment into stimulus classes "along the natural lines of fracture."
Keywords: the natural lines of fracture, stimulus class, rule-governed behaviour, problem-solving, Skinner
[References]  [Talks]  [1 referring publications by Place]
Download: 1992b Is There an Operant Analysis of Animal Problem-Solving.pdf
Place, U. T. (1992i). Philosophical fashion and scientific progress in the theory of universals. [Unpublished paper. Presented November 5th 1992, Department of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor; November 26-28, 1992, Conference of the Linguistic Society of Belgium on Conceptual and Linguistic Representation, Antwerp]
[Abstract]Are universals (kinds) something over and above the things (their instances) of which they are kinds? Does the universe come already packaged into kinds of thing, or are the universals which the human and animal mind distinguishes simply the product of the mind's classificatory activity? Whether universals are mind-independent or mind-dependent, are the concepts human beings and other living organisms have of them innate or are they generated wholly or in part by some kind of learning process. In either case, what assurance do we have that our conceptual scheme does not seriously misrepresent the way things are, as Kant puts it, "in themselves." While the tides of philosophical fashion have flowed backwards and forwards between the poles of this debate ever since the time of Plato and Aristotle, it is argued that there is now some reason to think that the current tide which appears to be moving away from platonism and nativism and back towards conceptualism and empiricism may be taking us towards a permanent scientifically-based resolution of the problem. This solution, if that is what it is, gives due weight to both innate factors and learning at the biological level and to social construction at the level of human linguistic communication. It sees Darwin's principle of variation and natural selection as operating as much in the ontogenetic development of our conceptual scheme as in its phylogeny, and as providing the assurance we need that, in B.F.Skinner's words, it takes "account of the natural lines of fracture along which behavior and environment actually break." (Skinner 1938 p.33).
Keywords: conceptualism, connectionism, universals
Download: 1992i Philosophical Fashion and Scientific Progress in the Theory of Universals.pdf
Place, U. T. (1993i). Following 'the natural lines of fracture': Concept formation in neural networks [Conference presentation, presented at the Symposium on Associationism, Behaviour Analysis and Connectionism, held at the Annual Conference of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Group, University College, London 31st March 1993].
[Abstract]It is an implication of Darwin's theory of evolution by variation and natural selection that the survival and reproduction of complex free-moving living organisms, animals in other words, depends on their ability to change the spatial relations between themselves and other objects, including other organisms of the same and of different species, and so bring about the conditions necessary for that survival and reproduction. In order to do that the organism requires a system - its nervous system - whose function is to match the output to the current stimulus input on the one hand and the organism's current state of deprivation with respect to conditions required for its survival and successful reproduction on the other. Matching behaviour to the conditions required for survival and reproduction is the function of the motivational/emotional part of the system. Matching behaviour to current stimulus input is the function of the sensory/cognitive part of the system. The sensory/cognitive system cannot perform its function successfully without the ability to group inputs together in such a way that every actual and possible member of the class or category so formed is a reliable indicator of the presence of an environmental situation in which a particular behavioural strategy or set of such strategies is going to succeed. In other words the survival and reproduction of an organism of this kind depends crucially on its having a conceptual scheme, a conceptual scheme moreover, which reliably predicts the actual behaviour-consequence relations operating in the organism's environment. Although verbs such as ‘classifying’, ‘categorizing’ and ‘conceptualizing’ are not to be found in Skinner's writings, there is an important passage in The Behavior of Organisms (Skinner 1938) where he addresses the issue which others talk about when they use such terms. Thus in Chapter One, after outlining his "System of Behavior", he goes on to say
The preceding system is based upon the assumption that both behavior and environment may be broken into parts which retain their identity throughout an experiment and undergo orderly changes. If this assumption were not in some sense justified, a science of behavior would be impossible. But the analysis of behavior is not an act of arbitrary sub-dividing. We cannot define the concepts of stimulus and response quite as simply as ‘parts of behavior and environment’ without taking account of the natural lines of fracture along which behavior and environment actually break. (Skinner 1938 p.33).
What Skinner has primarily in mind in this passage is the way the scientist's concepts need to be shaped into conformity with what he calls "the natural lines of fracture." But on the Darwinian argument the same must be true of the stimulus classes within which any living organism's behaviour generalises and between which it discriminates. It is argued that studying the properties of artificially constructed neural networks helps us to understand how the brain develops patterns of generalisation and discrimination which do indeed "follow the natural lines of fracture along which behavior and environment actually break." Attention is drawn to the role of the ‘hidden layer’ in responding to resemblances of pattern, to the role of re-entrant/recurrent and reverberatory circuits in establishing expectations on the basis of consecutive stimulus patterns, and to the role of error-correction in bringing stimulus classes into line with the contingencies experienced during learning.
Download: 1993i Following 'The Natural Lines of Fracture' - Concept Formation in Neural Networks.pdf
Place, U. T. (1996m). Metaphysics as the empirical investigation of the interface between language and reality. Acta Analytica,11(15), 97-118.
[Abstract]The rules of syntax and semantics on conformity to which linguistic communication depends are construed as social conventions instilled and maintained by the error-correcting practices of a linguistic community. That conception argues for the revival of conceptual analysis construed as the empirical investigation of such conventions using the ethnomethodological thought experiment as its primary research tool, and for a view of metaphysics as the empirical study of the interface between utterances and the reality they depict.
[References]  [2 referring publications by Place]
Download: 1996m Metaphysics as the Empirical Study of the Interface between Language and Reality.pdf