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The concept of behavior in Skinner and Merleau-Ponty

Grant number: 13/25363-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2014
Effective date (End): June 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Fundamentals and Assessments in Psychology
Principal researcher:Isaias Pessotti
Grantee:Henrique Mesquita Pompermaier
Home Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Authors from different traditions of psychology built concepts and theories, methods and applications for Psychology as a science, and more than that, as a science of behavior. In this sense, the definition of behavior presented is fundamental to comprehend the theoretical and methodological commitments and implications of each proposal. Among these different "behavioral psychologies", behaviorist proposal could be pointed out for their commitment to building a scientific naturalist comprehension, in which the behavior is taken as primary object of study. Although the agreement among researchers of behavior-analytic approach on the distinction of the concept of behavior in radical behaviorism regarding expressed in classical and methodological behaviorism, the definition of this concept in researches in behavior analysis and radical behaviorism have not being presented in a consensual way. Each use or emphasis on the interpretation of behavior (e.g. contingency, response or disposition) can be responsible for the plurality of philosophical commitments in comprehensions of radical behaviorism. Thereby, critical analysis and refinement of this concept are relevant, since they permit built more consensus and fruitful dialogues, in addition to a strength identity to the area. Dealing with the construction of different interpretations of concepts and notions in radical behaviorism, researchers have been analyzing joint and clashes between Skinner's work and other authors from different lines and areas of knowledge. Among these studies, there are texts that analyze similarities and differences between phenomenology and behaviorism. The positions commonly placed on debate with the behavior-analytic approach, however, refers to the American existential-phenomenological perspective, which is different in crucial aspects of European phenomenology approach, presented in Merleau-Ponty's work, in example. As Skinner, the French philosopher presents sharp criticism of idealism and dualism brought by mentalists proposals, also indicating the behavior as the study object to a psychological discipline. But, differently from Skinnerian proposal, Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology carefully explores themes that are currently pointed out as behavior analysis weaknesses, like experience, first person discourse, intentionality and consciousness. Thus, considering the study of concept of behavior relevance in radical behaviorism, and the possibilities of a debate between Skinner and Merleau-Ponty approaches, this project aims to explore definition(s) and implications of the concept of behavior in key works of B. F. Skinner and M. Merleau-Ponty. Accordingly, it is expected to a) build a greater refinement and precision on the concept of behavior comprehension in radical behaviorism, and b) promote a confront between the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty and Skinnerian behaviorism, in their similarities and differences. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
HENRIQUE MESQUITA POMPERMAIER. Críticas de Skinner e Merleau-Ponty à Causalidade. Trends in Psychology, v. 26, n. 1, p. 111-123, . (13/25363-9)

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