Contextualism and Behavior Analysis

Contextualism is a philosophical perspective about the way the world works. Its roots are firmly grounded in the early pragmatic philosophy and psychology of William James, the formal philosophy of Henri Bergson, the “process philosophy” of Alfred North Whitehead, and the educational philosophy and writings of John Dewey. Contextualism may best be understood in comparison to other worldviews. Such comparisons underscore its relevance for behavior analysis and the discussions surrounding a contextualistic form of behavior analysis.

Contextualism as a Worldview

In the 1940s, Stephen Pepper described ways in which people organized their understanding of the world as world hypotheses. Each world hypothesis is accompanied by a “root metaphor,” a commonsense perspective linking the abstract and universally applicable hypothesis to people's concrete, everyday experiences. ...

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