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Acta Comportamentalia

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LAZZERI, Filipe. Remarks on teleological behaviorism: part II. Acta comport. [online]. 2013, vol.21, n.3, pp. 273-283. ISSN 0188-8145.

This article is the second part of a larger work whose aim is to discuss H. Rachlin's teleological behaviorism. The scope of this second part is twofold, viz., Rachlin's emphasis upon overt behaviors as components of the relations that are truth conditions for ordinary psychological predications; and the teleology he suggests. Some objections to Rachlin's exclusion of covert behavior in the analysis of ordinary psychological categories are here raised. The article supports the hypothesis according to which there are fundamental non-manifest factors involved in, despite only partially and in some cases of, usage of ordinary psychological categories. Rachlin's altogether rejection of the notion of covert behavior probably stems from the assumption that such notion implies one or another mentalist view. However, this assumption is implausible, at least when covert behavior is understood as behavior of limited public observability, which, nonetheless, has the same general ontological features of overt behavior; i.e., the same relational structure and types of causal processes. Accepting that covert behaviors sometimes make up the relevant (behavioral) relations for the truth of ordinary psychological predications allows us to accommodate important common properties underneath the employment of ordinary psychological categories; for instance, those properties according to which reasoning may happen without being manifest, and feeling hot may involve organic reactions not very perceptible upon the outside body. Also, this article offers an evolutionary interpretation of Rachlin's teleology, drawing upon the so called etiological analysis of the notion of function. Thus, we argue in favor of a sort of teleofunctionalism about at least some ordinary psychological categories. Depending upon the way Rachlin's sort of Aristotelian perspective is interpreted, the account here provided makes explicit an evolutionary thought in disguise; but our goal is constructive, and not exegetical. From the remarks offered throughout this article, together with those of the first part of the work, an outline of an alternative account of at least most of ordinary psychological categories emerges, which may be called teleofunctional behaviorism. This approach suggests that ordinary psychological predications of at least most of the categories usually explain and predict behavior by reporting to operant and sometimes (though not only) respondent patterns of behavior, and these patterns may comprise covert behaviors. To such extent, these predications are anchored upon functions that ensue from selection histories, as the teleofunctionalist emphasizes. Notwithstanding, contrary to the usual teleofunctionalist approaches, these functions are possessed by the behaviors of the whole organism or system, rather than by the brain or any other part of the body. Hence, at least most of ordinary psychological categories, indeed, as Rachlin maintains, do not refer to inner entities, which are efficient causes of behavior and explain only how a particular behavior is performed. Rather, they refer to molar behavioral relations themselves, where we find a different type of causation - viz., selection by consequences -, which are fundamental for explaining why a particular behavior happen.

Keywords : Psychological predications; Behavior; Covert behavior; Behaviorism; Teleological behaviorism; Rachlin; Function; Teleofunctionalism; Selection by consequences; Skinner.

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