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Jay Moore


Selection as a process consists of (a) variation of traits, (b) differential interaction with the environment on the basis of the variation of traits, and (c) differential replication of beneficial, adaptive traits in the form of their transmission to and expression in future generations of a population. Behavior analysts suggest selection applies to the analysis of an organism’s behavior just as much as to an analysis of its morphology and the origin of species. The three levels at which behavior analysts apply the principle of selection are (a) phylogenic, for the development of an innate repertoire in a species; (b) ontogenic, for the development of an operant repertoire in the lifetime of an individual organism; and (c) cultural, for the development of cultural practices in a social group. Much of traditional psychology is committed to postulating antecedent causes of behavior, particularly where those causes are assumed to be mental. This article argues that a science of behavior is well-served by setting aside concerns with antecedent mental causes in favor of selection by consequences as a causal mode.

Key words: B. F. Skinner, behavior analysis, Charles Darwin, evolution, selection by consequences. 

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