Functional materialism : a working paper : honors thesis [(HONRS 499)]

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Feeney, David R.
Ulman, Jerome D.
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Thesis (B.?.)
Honors College
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The methodological strategies and tactics of behavior analysis have met with great success toward establishing a natural science of behavior within modern psychology. The experimental analysis of behavior has established a rigorous factual base on which a resulting technology of behavior is founded. These technological successes, which shore up the conceptual and philosophical position called Radical Behaviorism, are functionally related to our insistence upon natural science research methods appropriate to our field, namely, the complex interaction between organism and environment under the causal mode of selection by consequences.However, behavior does not occur in a vacuum, but in the material context of regional, national, and international cultural practices. In response, several behavior analysts are calling for the same natural science orientation with which to establish a natural science of culture.It is widely agreed that cultural selection is not amenable to an "analysis by extrapolation" from the level of operant selection, just as behavior analysts balk at attempts to analyze and explain behavior by extrapolation from the level of natural selection. Concerned behavior analysts have entered into an interdisciplinary collusion with anthropologists whose methods are comparable to the natural science methodology inherent in a science of behavior.Jerome Ulman, in a timely attempt at clarification and synthesis, has proposed a natural science framework within which a non-reductionistic science of culture may be, in time, achieved. This conceptual analysis , called Functional Materialism , is a wide-ranging theoretical and ontological position which, we feel, will be the milestone with which not only the rising science of culture will be guided, but also the student of disciplines concerned with sciences whose subject matter is amenable to selection by consequences.