Skinner's Theory

Topics: Experimental analysis of behavior, Operant conditioning, Reinforcement Pages: 2 (639 words) Published: January 2, 2013
Skinner called his particular brand of behaviorism "Radical" behaviorism.[17] Radical behaviorism is the philosophy of the science of behavior. It seeks to understand behavior as a function of environmental histories of reinforcing consequences. Such a functional analysis makes it capable of producing technologies of behavior (see Applied Behavior Analysis). Unlike less austere behaviorisms, it does not accept private events such as thinking, perceptions, and unobservable emotions in a causal account of an organism's behavior: The position can be stated as follows: what is felt or introspectively observed is not some nonphysical world of consciousness, mind, or mental life but the observer's own body. This does not mean, as I shall show later, that introspection is a kind of psychological research, nor does it mean (and this is the heart of the argument) that what are felt or introspectively observed are the causes of the behavior. An organism behaves as it does because of its current structure, but most of this is out of reach of introspection. At the moment we must content ourselves, as the methodological behaviorist insists, with a person's genetic and environment histories. What are introspectively observed are certain collateral products of those histories. ...

In this way we repair the major damage wrought by mentalism. When what a person does [is] attributed to what is going on inside him, investigation is brought to an end. Why explain the explanation? For twenty five hundred years people have been preoccupied with feelings and mental life, but only recently has any interest been shown in a more precise analysis of the role of the environment. Ignorance of that role led in the first place to mental fictions, and it has been perpetuated by the explanatory practices to which they gave rise.[18] Skinner stood at the opposite position from humanistic psychology for his whole career, and denied humans possessing freedom and dignity as well. Most of his...
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