The New Behaviorism: Second Edition
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This groundbreaking book presents a brief history of behaviorism, the dominant movement in American psychology in the first half of the 20th Century. It then analyzes and criticizes radical behaviorism, as pioneered by B.F. Skinner, and its philosophy and applications to social issues.
This second edition is a completely rewritten and much expanded version of the first edition, published nearly 15 years earlier. It surveys what changes have occurred within behaviorism and whether it has maintained its influence on experimental cognitive psychology or other fields.
The mission of the book is to help steer experimental psychology away from its current undisciplined indulgence in "mental life" toward the core of science, which is an economical description of nature. The author argues that parsimony -- the elementary philosophical distinction between private and public events, even biology, evolution and animal psychology -- all are ignored by much contemporary cognitive psychology. The failings of radical behaviorism as well as a philosophically defective cognitive psychology point to the need for a new theoretical behaviorism, which can deal with problems such as "consciousness" that have been either ignored, evaded or muddled by existing approaches.
This new behaviorism provides a unified framework for the science of behavior that can be applied both to the laboratory and to broader practical issues such as law and punishment, the health-care system, and teaching.
a naïve epistemology (theory of knowledge) that caused many philosophers to dismiss the whole field. Skinner bears much responsibility for that and for the limits he placed on theory. And finally, Skinner’s pronouncements on society and its reform led him to extrapolate an infant laboratory science to social realms far beyond its reach. My response to this is not so much “conservative” as just cautious. Human society is immensely complex. Political decisions involve values as much as techniques.
out of which he hoped more powerful theories would grow. But neither Hull’s simplistic quantitative principles nor Tolman’s metaphors have led to the comprehensive understanding of behavioral mechanisms that both desired. Not all behaviorists accept the conventional scientific proposition that the aim of science is to explain the phenomena of nature. “Explanation” for most scientists means “theoretical explanation.” Hull and Tolman agreed on this point, at least. Their efforts had only limited
papers and five books. He writes and lectures on a wide range of important public policy issues. This page intentionally left blank The New Behaviorism Second Edition John Staddon Second edition published 2014 by Psychology Press 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Psychology Press 27 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 2FA Psychology Press is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2014 Taylor & Francis The right of John Staddon to be identified as author of
that our test criteria are far from immutable. They differ from school to school and evolve as a discipline develops. How the “Scientific Method” Evolves Here is a contemporary example of how standards evolve. There are thousands of published research studies every year purporting to show a curative effect of some new drug. But do they? A 2011 Wall Street Journal article18 listed a slew of such “breakthroughs,” reported in prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals like Nature, Science and
science-fiction classics: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1931) and George Free Will and Utopia 125 Orwell’s 1984 (1949). He assigned all three in his introductory psychology course at Harvard. There is some irony in Skinner’s choice, because Orwell’s and Huxley’s novels are both dystopias. They portray not the supposed benefits of a technological approach to human society, but the evil consequences of either coercive (1984) or stealthy (Brave New World) efforts to control or gentle human