Defeatist Xenophobia or Integrative Complexity? A Reply to the Comments About "The Clash of Giants"

Ernst L. Moerk


Several of the major questions raised by the discussants of the target article, “The Clash of Giants,” are focused upon in an attempt to facilitate understanding across paradigm boundaries. A brief summary of the background from which the article was derived intends to remove misunderstandings that simply stem from a lack of factual information. Terminological and conceptual problems as to the exact meaning and the sources of “emitted behavior” and the nativistic implications of this term are indicated. Whether “verbal behavior” is considered merely as an effective cause, explaining the contingencies of responding in functional analyses, or a formal cause, explaining structural linguistic learning, is considered briefly. Relationships between the concepts of rule-governed behavior, tacit knowledge, procedural knowledge, and purposiveness are further explored. Finally, the problem deriving from narrow and outdated knowledge is demonstrated by indicating how far the field of epistemology has progressed in the half century that has passed since the publication date of the epistemological guidebook relied upon by two of the discussants. Recent epistemology stresses communication across disciplinary boundaries and scientific growth based on such constructive contact. Several behavioral colleagues have fruitfully built on these newer insights and have begun building bridges where previously only chasms were seen. Skill learning, which focuses on behavioral phenomena and incorporates many cognitive conceptualizations, is again suggested as one promising bridge to integrate diverse perspectives and to make behavioral approaches fully applicable to the complex question of language acquisition.

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

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