Skinner ( 1904-1990 )

1746 Words Oct 30th, 2014 7 Pages
B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) was an American psychologist who was a leading proponent of behaviorism, which had significant influences on philosophy. He was an advocate of his own school of thought called radical behaviorism, and conducted experimental analysis of behavior.

In About Behaviorism, B.F. Skinner expands on methodological behaviorism’s central tenet and its weaknesses. Skinner illustrated that in methodological behaviorism, the only admissible and relevant evidence in scientific psychology is behavioral data. To methodological behaviorists, introspection is not a form of evidence, since it is a private and personal way of knowing. There can be no public agreement on introspection, and thus it cannot be accepted as a scientific practice. And thus, methodological behaviorism acknowledges the existence of mental states, and believes that mental states may mediate the processing of actions. However it discounts mental states as a form of empirical evidence.

Skinner criticizes methodological behaviorists for granting the existence of mental events, while discounting them as forms of evidence because mentalism would detract from the external antecedent events that could explain behavior. Thus, he proposes that radical behaviorism ameliorates the above problem. Skinner claims that introspection is a composition of genetic and environmental histories, and the increasing ability to control the environment makes it possible to affect “the world within the skin and…

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