On Responsibility and Punishment

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1995-02

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Abstract

The litany of social dysfunction is now familiar. The rates of violent crime are higher than they have ever been: Americans kill and maim one another at per-capita rates an order of magnitude higher than other industrialized nations. The rate of marriage has been generally declining and the rate of illegitimacy hits new highs each year. Tens of thousands of children have no fathers and no family member or close acquaintance who has a regular job. This pattern is now repeat-ing into a second and third generation...

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Staddon, J. (1995) On responsibility and punishment. The Atlantic Monthly, Feb., 88-94.

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Staddon

John E. R. Staddon

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience

Until my retirement in 2007, my laboratory did experimental research on learning and adaptive behavior, mostly with animals: pigeons, rats, fish, parakeets.  We were particularly interested in timing and memory, feeding regulation, habituation and the ways in which pigeons and rats adapt to reward schedules. The aim  is to arrive at simple models for learning that can help to identify the underlying neural mechanisms. I continue to do theoretical and historical work on the power law in psychophysics, operant learning, timing and memory, habituation and feeding regulation.  I have applied some of these ideas to economics and financial markets and social issues such as traffic control (Distracting Miss Daisy, The Atlantic, 2008; Death by Stop Sign) and smoking (Unlucky Strike, Private Health and the Science, Law and Politics of Smoking, with David Hockney, UBP, 2013).  A second edition of Adaptive Behavior and Learning (Cambridge UP) was published in 2016. Most recently I have published Scientific Method: How Science Works, Fails to Work, and Pretends to Work. published by Routledge in December, 2017, Unlucky Strike Second Edition, and Science in an age of unreason (Regnery, 2022). 


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