Comments on "Intentional Behaviorism" by G. R. Foxall

Behavior and Philosophy 35:113 - 130 (2007)
Professor Foxall suggests the radical behaviorist language of contingencies is fine as far as it goes, and is quite suitable for matters of prediction and control. However, he argues that radical behaviorist language is extensional, and that it is necessary to formally incorporate the intentional idiom into the language of behavioral science to promote explanations and interpretations of behavior that are comprehensive in scope. Notwithstanding Professor Foxall's arguments, radical behaviorists hold that the circumstances identified by the use of the intentional idiom are accommodated by the radical behaviorist language of contingencies, not only for prediction and control but also for explanations and interpretations. Of central importance is that individuals may have histories that lead them to generate descriptions of past and present behavior, as well as descriptions of prevailing circumstances that have caused that behavior or are likely to cause that behavior in the future. The resulting verbal behavior may then enter into contingencies influencing their behavior, although the extent to which it does so varies across individuals as a function of their histories. Overall, the way that the pragmatism of radical behaviorism conceives of the nature and contribution of covert events differs appreciably from the way Professor Foxall conceives of the nature and contribution of intentional phenomena.
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