A review of BF Skinner's Verbal Behavior [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Language 35 (1):26--58 (1959)
I had intended this review not specifically as a criticism of Skinner's speculations regarding language, but rather as a more general critique of behaviorist (I would now prefer to say "empiricist") speculation as to the nature of higher mental processes. My reason for discussing Skinner's book in such detail was that it was the most careful and thoroughgoing presentation of such speculations, an evaluation that I feel is still accurate. Therefore, if the conclusions I attempted to substantiate in the review are correct, as I believe they are, then Skinner's work can be regarded as, in effect, a reductio ad absurdum of behaviorist assumptions. My personal view is that it is a definite merit, not a defect, of Skinner's work that it can be used for this purpose, and it was for this reason that I tried to deal with it fairly exhaustively. I do not see how his proposals can be improved upon, aside from occasional details and oversights, within the framework of the general assumptions that he accepts. I do not, in other words, see any way in which his proposals can be substantially improved within the general framework of behaviorist or neobehaviorist, or, more generally, empiricist ideas that has dominated much of modern linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. The conclusion that I hoped to establish in the review, by discussing these speculations in their most explicit and detailed form, was that the general point of view was largely mythology, and that its widespread acceptance is not the result of empirical support, persuasive reasoning, or the absence of a plausible alternative.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Jerry A. Fodor & Zenon W. Pylyshyn (1981). How Direct is Visual Perception? Some Reflections on Gibson's 'Ecological Approach'. Cognition 9 (2):139-96.
Richard Rorty (1977). Wittgensteinian Philosophy and Empirical Psychology. Philosophical Studies 31 (3):151 - 172.
Mario Bungf (1984). Philosophical Problems in Linguistics. Erkenntnis 21 (2):107-173.
Albert J. Bergesen (2012). Turning Durkheim on His Head: A Reply to Peterson and Bjerre. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 42 (4):485-495.
Timothy J. Gallagher (2014). A Mead‐Chomsky Comparison Reveals a Set of Key Questions on the Nature of Language and Mind. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 44 (2):148-167.
Similar books and articles
John Collins (2007). Meta-Scientific Eliminativism: A Reconsideration of Chomsky's Review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4):625 - 658.
Joseph J. Pear (2004). Correspondences Between the Interactive Alignment Account and Skinner's in Verbal Behavior. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (2):206-207.
Roy A. Moxley (1997). Skinner: From Essentialist to Selectionist Meaning. Behavior and Philosophy 25 (2):95 - 119.
B. F. Skinner (1971). Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Penguin Books.
Roy A. Moxley (1996). The Import of Skinner's Three-Term Contingency. Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):145 - 167.
Jon D. Ringen (1976). Explanation, Teleology, and Operant Behaviorism. Philosophy of Science 43 (June):223-253.
Roy A. Moxley (2006). B. F. Skinner's Other Positivistic Book: "Walden Two". Behavior and Philosophy 34:19 - 37.
Roy A. Moxley (2001). The Modern/Postmodern Context of Skinner's Selectionist Turn in 1945. Behavior and Philosophy 29:121 - 153.
Ullin T. Place (1997). Linguistic Behaviorism and the Correspondence Theory of Truth. Behavior and Philosophy 25 (2):83 - 94.
Roy A. Moxley (1999). The Two Skinners, Modern and Postmodern. Behavior and Philosophy 27 (2):97 - 125.
Roy A. Moxley (1997). Skinner: From Determinism to Random Variation. Behavior and Philosophy 25 (1):3 - 28.
Carl G. Hedman (1975). Toward a Spinozistic Modification of Skinner's Theory of Man. Inquiry 18 (3):325 – 335.
John C. Malone Jr & Natalie M. Cruchon (2001). Radical Behaviorism and the Rest of Psychology: A Review/Précis of Skinner's "About Behaviorism". Behavior and Philosophy 29:31 - 57.
Martin E. Morf (1998). Sartre, Skinner, and the Compatibilist Freedom to Be Authentically. Behavior and Philosophy 26 (1/2):29 - 43.
Judith L. Scharff (1999). Skinner's Reinforcement Theory: A Heideggerian Assessment of Its Empirical Success and Philosophical Failure. Behavior and Philosophy 27 (1):1 - 17.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads28 ( #58,379 of 1,096,179 )
Recent downloads (6 months)8 ( #20,758 of 1,096,179 )
How can I increase my downloads?