An anarchist reply to Skinner on 'weak' methods of control

Inquiry 17 (1-4):105 – 111 (1974)
Abstract
B. F. Skinner has argued that those who are serious about ending war, pollution, etc., must face the fact that the received methods of changing behavior have proved ineffective. According to Skinner, we must replace 'weak' methods of control such as control via praise and blame and control via Rousseau's 'natural contingencies of things' with Skinner's 'strong' methods of control. It is argued that Skinner's case for the continued ineffectiveness of such methods of control rests on the unargued assumption that we are stuck with the highly centralized forms of social organization that characterize present-day advanced societies, forms that place barriers between man and man and between man and nature. Drawing on the anarchist tradition in political thought, it is argued that a radical decentralization — which cannot be dismissed as Utopian — would bring a new effectiveness to what Skinner dismisses as 'weak' forms of control.
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