Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. SkinnerIn this profound and profoundly controversial work, a landmark of 20th-century thought originally published in 1971, B. F. Skinner makes his definitive statement about humankind and society.
Insisting that the problems of the world today can be solved only by dealing much more effectively with human behavior, Skinner argues that our traditional concepts of freedom and dignity must be sharply revised. They have played an important historical role in our struggle against many kinds of tyranny, he acknowledges, but they are now responsible for the futile defense of a presumed free and autonomous individual; they are perpetuating our use of punishment and blocking the development of more effective cultural practices. Basing his arguments on the massive results of the experimental analysis of behavior he pioneered, Skinner rejects traditional explanations of behavior in terms of states of mind, feelings, and other mental attributes in favor of explanations to be sought in the interaction between genetic endowment and personal history. He argues that instead of promoting freedom and dignity as personal attributes, we should direct our attention to the physical and social environments in which people live. It is the environment rather than humankind itself that must be changed if the traditional goals of the struggle for freedom and dignity are to be reached.
Beyond Freedom and Dignity urges us to reexamine the ideals we have taken for granted and to consider the possibility of a radically behaviorist approach to human problems--one that has appeared to some incompatible with those ideals, but which envisions the building of a world in which humankind can attain its greatest possible achievements.
B.F. Skinner Panel about "Beyond Freedom & Dignity"
Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B. F. Skinner
Thank you! Skinner is still upholding the coarsest behaviorism; what distinguishes it is its consistency and broad range of application to human concerns. Here he tells us at one point that progress has been made beyond the push-pull automatism of early behavioral theorists -- ""complexity"" is now recognized. But Skinner's concepts of reinforcement and avoidance are no more complex, and he doesn't even bother giving a refined, well-developed argument against ""mentalism,"" but simply reiterates that ""feelings are at best byproducts,"" not causes. Against the problematic notion of man as an autonomous agent he presents a notion of the individual ""controlled by the environment"" which would be equally problematic even if it weren't so vulgarized. The core term ""control"" is never defined or inspected, one big reason for the book's irrelevance. He identifies a key issue, how to make remote consequences effective, but in what becomes a rather 18th-century discourse on human habits, fails to answer it.
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There are three B. The Skinner who invented these techniques belongs to an old school of psychology, founded by Pavlov, Thorndike and others at the end of the 19th century. The second B. Skinner is bolder. The controlled environment that Skinner the experi menter creates in the laboratory, Skinner the utopian declares should be a model for planning the whole society.
Share Tweet! In fact, Deborah Skinner was alive and well and living in London, and in a newspaper story recounted a happy childhood and devoted father. The crib was designed to free up infant movement, and had done her no harm. The subtext of most Skinner stories is that he saw humans as no different to animals, and to some extent this was true. This philosophical distinction allowed for the incredible variety of human difference, while allowing adhesion to the behaviorist line that humans were basically creatures of their environment. In this profound and profoundly controversial work, a landmark of 20th-century thought originally published in , B.