Expanding the behavior-analytic meanings of “freedom”: the contributions of Israel Goldiamond

Ramon Cardinali Fernandes, Alexandre Dittrich


The adoption of determinism and the use of the term “control” when referring to relations of influence between environment and the actions of organisms seem to suggest that there is no room for freedom in behavioral science. Nevertheless, some behavior analysts had articulated meanings of the word “freedom” that are wholly consistent with the epistemological assumptions of radical behaviorism. Some of these meanings, like those elaborated by Skinner, Baum and Catania, are relatively well-known in the behavior-analytical community and had some measure of conceptual or practical impact. In order to expand the possible behavior-analytic meanings of “freedom”, this article aimed to revisit and discuss a unique and little known formulation on the subject elaborated by Israel Goldiamond. To these ends, we present 1) Goldiamond’s first remarks on freedom; 2) his subsequent proposal of a nonlinear behavior analysis; 3) the concepts of degrees of freedom, degrees of coercion and “genuine choice”; and 4) the types of coercion identified by Goldiamond that ultimately limit freedom in different social contexts. This is followed by a discussion on how and to what extent Goldiamond’s formulation constitutes an expansion of the behavior-analytic meanings of “freedom”. Similarities and differences between Goldiamond´s formulations and those of Skinner, Baum and Catania are also discussed.


freedom, coercion, nonlinear behavior analysis, choice, Israel Goldiamond

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v27i0.8248

Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility