Elbow room in a functional analysis: Freedom and dignity regained

Behaviorism 13 (1):21-36 (1985)
This paper argues that a behavioral or functional analysis of human action is compatible with human freedom. This thesis is quite contrary to what behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner as well as their critics such as D. C. Dennett have assumed to be the case. The essential argument involves three steps. First, the paper proceeds by presenting a novel analysis of intentional or mental states in terms of the principles of reinforcement. It is argued that with the acquisition of language humans are able to think about, plan for, and make rational choices about the future. Second, the paper, while not trying to define freedom, nonetheless argues that freedom is essentially a function of three conditions. These include our power over the environment, our will power, and the ability to rationally determine our value priorities. Third, and finally, it is shown that there is nothing in a behavioral or functional analysis to prevent our satisfying these three basic conditions of which our freedom is a function
Keywords Action  Ethics  Freedom  Intentionality  Brentano  Skinner, B
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