Ethical Obligations and the Case of Punishment
There is a long-standing debate about the place for technical versus colloquial language in applied behavior analysis; however, this debate has yet to be considered within the context of a professional code of ethics for applied behavior analysts. In this article we discuss the limitations of technical language in articulating the applied behavior analyst’s ethical commitments, illustrating this point by considering the use of the term punishment in the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2016). The ethical concerns regarding the use of punishment may be more accurately stated in terms of the need to avoid techniques that cause pain or discomfort rather than techniques that meet the technical definition of punishment. In summary, more consideration should be given to the use of subjective terminology in behavior analysts’ ethical discussions.
Graber A, Graber JE. The Unique Challenge of Articulating the Behavior Analysts’ Ethical Obligations and the Case of Punishment. Behav Anal Pract. 2018 Oct 30;12(3):688-695. doi: 10.1007/s40617-018-00310-9. PMID: 31976279; PMCID: PMC6743526.