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Operant Conditioning and a Paradox of Teleology

Jon Ringen
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Dec., 1985), pp. 565-577
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187440
Page Count: 13
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Operant Conditioning and a Paradox of Teleology
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Abstract

The ambiguity to which Porpora (1980) objects in Wright's (1972, 1976) analysis of goal-directedness permits certain counterexamples to Porpora's analysis to be easily accommodated by Wright's. As a consequence, Ringen's (1976) claim that some operant behavior is goal-directed is in accord with Wright's analysis and with certain features of common sense that Wright's analysis captures. However, the way our commonsense conception of goal-directedness accommodates some of the counterexamples to Porpora's analysis suggests an intimate connection between goal-directedness and intentional notions like belief and desire. This suggests a possible criticism of Ringen and highlights problematic aspects of contemporary folk psychology.

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