Beyond Freedom and Dignity
Skinner's form of behaviorism, radical behaviorism, is obviously the root of many of his ideas throughout this book as he uses the environment in explaining overt behaviors and dismisses covert behaviors as any kind of influence over people's actions. Skinner wants to make psychology a science by making it have measurable material; therefore, the workings of the mind, people's motivations, and people's emotions are not measurable and should not be considered. What needs to be studied then is the relationship between people and their environment in order to create a better world. Skinner feels that the way this society is going, the downfall will be coming soon as we are headed for disaster because of views on freedom and dignity. Beyond Freedom and Dignity is B. F. Skinner's beliefs about how to change people and create a utopian society through a more effective control of people and their environment. The first chapter entitled "A Technology of Behavior" mainly restates what radical behaviorism is by saying psychology should look beyond mental processes and motivations, and study behavior itself without being concerned about what drives people. Studying behaviors, rather than drives, can also yield reproducible results (through conditioning), which is a necessary for a psychology to be considered a science. Skinner sees the technology of behavior as being a tool to shape society around us. "Almost all of our major problems involve human behavior, and they cannot be solved by physical and biological technology alone," Skinner (1971) writes before again expressing his need for technology of behavior (p. 24). He feels that this reshaping of society could bring people closer to one another and to their environment but questions who will control this technology. Being the one in control would be controlling behaviors, values, and opinions, and to what end would a person use this power (Skinner, 1971). After describing the...
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