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I wondered if anyone had seen this article on Relational Frame Theory in the most recent edition of the New Scientist? It reports an active laboratory based research programme: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23431280-200-spoken-rules/?utm_content=buffer69239&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

More boldly here is a blog from one of its originators, Steven C. Hayes, suggesting it offers a full and complete account of language and cognition: http://www.stevenchayes.com/finding-the-key/

The professional organisation for Applied Behaviour Analysis has made a statement: ABAI President Michael Dougher on Freddy Jackson Brown’s and Nic Hooper’s “Spoken Rules”: “Finally, after so many years of misunderstanding and mischaracterizing Skinner’s work on verbal behavior, it is thrilling to see that work get the recognition that is its due. As this piece makes clear, the fundamental disagreement between Skinnerian and Chomskyan accounts of language was always a reflection of deeper, pre-analytic assumptions about which aspects of language to study (function or structure) and how best to study it. Aided by recent developments in stimulus equivalence and relational frame theory, which extend Skinner’s analysis to provide a compelling functional account of generativity, it is very gratifying to see this validation for the critical role of learning in language development.” The article appears in The New Scientist this month and can be read in full online for a fee.

I'm interested how few linguists appear to have heard of this account. I would be very keen to get a sense of how linguists on this list might respond to this and what, if any, rebuttals or appraisals might be made of this. Some of what is written about linguistics/Chomsky seems incomplete to me.

Thanks for your time.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not a question, it's an invitation to discuss. SE is for objectively answerable questions. – user6726 Jun 14 '17 at 13:17
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    (I am not a linguist but...) the wiki article on RFT mentions language learning as a goal but all of the applications seem to be about higher level cognition (concept formation) and clinical psychiatry rather than learning syntax rules among different world languages. – Mitch Jun 14 '17 at 14:55
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    I had never heard of RFT before this, but on first view it seems 'dodgy' given the heavy weather of 'relations are a better way than associations' (they're not pretty much the same). But that could be because of inherent oversimplification in the popularization blurb/wiki retelling. – Mitch Jun 14 '17 at 15:01
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    It may simply be greater attention to pragmatics and context, which is what's been leading to recent computational gains (along with better linear algebra programs). – jlawler Jun 14 '17 at 15:54
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    After I read Verbal Behavior and Chomsky's review of it, I was completely persuaded by Chomsky that Skinner's theory hardly had a right to that designation "theory". It doesn't have the precision or concern with factual detail and prediction that we associate with scientific theories. It's just empty verbalisms. I read the available on line references you supplied. Ho hum. Just more of the same, is my impression. – Greg Lee Jun 16 '17 at 3:24