B.F. Skinner: Consensus And Controversy: Controversy & by Sohan Modgil


By Sohan Modgil

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Additional resources for B.F. Skinner: Consensus And Controversy: Controversy & Consensus (Falmer International Master-Minds Challenged, Vol 5)

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The papers are: (first in order of publication) ‘Skinner and Sartre’, by Steinar Kvale and Carl Erik Grenness, which appeared in the Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Spring, 1967; and (second in order of publication) ‘Radical Behaviorism in Reconciliation with Phenomenology’, by me, which was published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 1969. DAY 29 The composition of both these papers was stimulated by the same event, the Symposium on Behaviorism and Phenomenology held at Rice University in 1963 to celebrate the founding of Division 24 of the American Psychological Association, now called the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.

This seems to me to have greater potential than Skinner allows. His difficulties have more to do with how he chose to construe the philosophy which sustains his work and gives the work its particular quality and direction. It seems safe to say that Skinner has believed all along that the scientific philosophy of behaviorism which governs his scientific work leaves him no option than to treat of conscious content exclusively with concepts that pertain to stimuli and responses. This self-imposed condition for scientific endeavor is a costly one….

The stance in trying to show that, in a certain way, the Skinnerian analysis is mistaken, even though this does not really affect the appeal of radical behaviorism, is reminiscent of the similar stance taken by Scriven (1956), as we have seen. The following quotations provide a sense of what is happening in the article and the usage of radical behaviorism that it contains: The claim of this final section of the present article shall be that Skinner has not got the problem of conscious content right.

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