Operant conditioning and teleology

Philosophy of Science 47 (4):568-582 (1980)
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This paper defends the relevance of Taylor's (1964) critique of S-R behaviorism to Skinner's model of operant conditioning. In particular, it is argued against Ringen (1976) that the model of operant conditioning is a nonteleological variety of explanation. Operant conditioning is shown unable, on this account, to provide a parsimonious and predictive explanation of the behavior of higher level organisms. Finally, it is shown that the principle of operant conditioning implicitly assumes a teleological capacity, the admission of which renders the principle of operant conditioning superfluous



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Douglas Porpora
Drexel University

Citations of this work

Functions and goal directedness.Berent Enç & Fred Adams - 1992 - Philosophy of Science 59 (4):635-654.
On the prospects for a nomothetic theory of social structure.Douglas V. Porpora - 1983 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 13 (3):243–264.
Operant conditioning and a paradox of teleology.Jon Ringen - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (4):565-577.

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References found in this work

Science and human behavior.B. F. Skinner - 1954 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 144:268-269.
Beyond Fredom and Dignity.B. F. Skinner - 1973 - Science and Society 37 (2):227-229.
The Explanation of Behaviour.Charles Taylor - 1967 - Mind 76 (301):127-136.
Explanation and teleology.Larry Wright - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (2):204-218.

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