Beyond freedom and dignity pdf

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beyond freedom and dignity pdf

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He was born in Pennsylvania in and gained M. The author of the classic Utopian novel Walden Two , Professor Skinner is famous for his laboratory work with pigeons, bringing animal experimentation to a quantitative scientific level. He is known as the father of the teaching machine and programmed learning, and his inventions include the Air Crib, a mechanical baby-tender, and the Skinner Box, a research instrument designed to trace changes in animal behaviour.

A Technology of Behaviour 9 2. Freedom 31 3. Dignity 48 4. Punishment 63 5. Alternatives to Punishment 84 6. Values 7. The Evolution of a Culture 8. The Design of a Culture 9. What Is Man? We play from strength, and our strength is science and technology. To contain a population explosion we look for better methods of birth control.

Threatened by a nuclear holocaust, we build bigger deterrent forces and anti-ballistic-missile systems. We try to stave off world famine with new foods and better ways of growing them.

Improved sanitation and medicine will, we hope, control disease, better housing and transportation will solve the problems of the ghettos, and new ways of reducing or disposing of waste will stop the pollution of the environ- ment. We can point to remarkable achievements in all these fields, and it is not surprising that we should try to extend them. But things grow steadily worse, and it is disheartening to find that technology itself is increasingly at fault. Sanitation and medicine have made the prob- lems of population more acute, war has acquired a new horror with the invention of nuclear weapons, and the affluent pursuit of happiness is largely responsible for pollution.

All his progress has been at the expense of damage to his en- vironment which he cannot repair and could not foresee. And he can do so if he will recognize the nature of the difficulty. The applica- tion of the physical and biological sciences alone will not solve our problems because the solutions lie in another field. Better contraceptives will control population only if people use them. New weapons may offset new defences and vice versa, but a nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed.

New methods of agriculture and medicine will not help if they are not practised, and housing is a matter not only of buildings and cities but of how people live. Overcrowding can be corrected only by inducing people not to crowd, and the environment will continue to deteriorate until polluting practices are abandoned. In short, we need to make vast changes in human be- haviour, and we cannot make them with the help of nothing more than physics or biology, no matter how hard we try.

And there are other problems, such as the breakdown of our educational system and the disaffection and revolt of the young, to which physical and biological technologies are so obviously irrelevant that they have never been applied.

Such expressions imply that where human behaviour begins, technology stops, and that we must carry on, as we have in the past, with what we have learned from personal experience or from those collections of personal experi- ences called history, or with the distillations of experi- ence to be found in folk wisdom and practical rules of thumb.

These have been available for centuries, and all we have to show for them is the state of the world today. What we need is a technology of behaviour. But a behavioural technology comparable in power and precision to physi- cal and biological technology is lacking, and those who do not find the very possibility ridiculous are more likely to be frightened by it than reassured.

Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of his world. Today he is the thing he understands least.

Physics and biology have come a long way, but there has been no comparable development of anything like a science of human behaviour. Greek physics and biology are now of historical interest only no modern physicist or biologist would turn to Aristotle for help , but the dialogues of Plato are still assigned to students and cited as if they threw light on human behaviour. Aristotle could not have understood a page of modern physics or biology, but Socrates and his friends would have little trouble in following most current discussions of human affairs.

And as to technology, we have made immense strides in controlling the physical and biological worlds, but our practices in government, education, and much of economics, though adapted to very different conditions, have not greatly improved. We can scarcely explain this by saying that the Greeks 12 Beyond Freedom and Dignity knew all there was to know about human behaviour.

Cer- tainly they knew more than they knew about the physical world, but it was still not much. Moreover, their way of thinking about human behaviour must have had some fatal flaw. Whereas Greek physics and biology, no matter how crude, led eventually to modem science, Greek theories of human behaviour led nowhere.

If they are with us today, it is not because they possessed some kind of eternal verity, but because they did not contain the seeds of anything better. It can always be argued that human behaviour is a particularly difficult field. It is, and we are especially likely to think so just because we are so inept in dealing with it.

But modern physics and biology successfully treat subjects that are certainly no simpler than many aspects of human behaviour. The difference is that the instru- ments and methods they use are of commensurate com- plexity.

The fact that equally powerful instruments and methods are not available in the field of human be- haviour is not an explanation; it is only part of the puzzle. Was putting a man on the moon actually easier than improving education in our public schools?

Or than constructing better kinds of living space for everyone? Or than making it possible for everyone to be gainfully em- ployed and, as a result, to enjoy a higher standard of living? The choice was not a matter of priorities, for no one could have said that it was more important to get to the moon. The exciting thing about getting to the moon was its feasibility. Science and technology had reached the point at which, with one great push, the thing could be done. There is no comparable excitement about the problems posed by human behaviour.

We are not close to solutions. It is easy to conclude that there must be something about human behaviour which makes a scientific analysis.

A Technology of Behaviour 13 and hence an effective technology, impossible, but we have not by any means exhausted the possibilities. There is a sense in which it can be said that the methods of science have scarcely yet been applied to human behav- iour.

We have used the instruments of science; we have counted and measured and compared; but something essential to scientific practice is missing in almost all cur- rent discussions of human behaviour. It has to do with our treatment of the causes of behaviour. If other things moved, it was because someone else was moving them, and if the mover could not be seen, it was because he was invisible.

The Greek gods served in this way as the causes of physical phenomena. Physics and biology soon abandoned explanations of this sort and turned to more useful kinds of causes, but the step has not been de- cisively taken in the field of human behaviour. Intelli- gent people no longer believe that men are possessed by demons although the exorcism of devils is occasionally practised, and the daimonic has reappeared in the writ- ings of psychotherapists , but human behaviour is still commonly attributed to indwelling agents.

A juvenile de- linquent is said, for example, to be suffering from a dis- turbed personality. There would be no point in saying it if the personality were not somehow distinct from the body which has got itself into trouble.

The distinction is clear when one body is said to contain several person- alities which control it in different ways at different times. Psychoanalysts have identified three of these per- sonalities - the ego, superego, and id - and interactions 14 Beyond Freedom and Dignity among them are said to be responsible for the behaviour of the man in whom they dwell. Although physics soon stopped personifying things in this way, it continued for a long time to speak as if they had wills, impulses, feelings, purposes, and other frag- mentary attributes of an indwelling agent.

All this was eventually aban- doned, and to good effect, but the behavioural sciences still appeal to comparable internal states. No one is sur- prised to hear it said that a person carrying good news walks more rapidly because he feels jubilant, or acts care- lessly because of his impetuosity, or holds stubbornly to a course of action through sheer force of will.

Careless references to purpose are still to be found in both physics and biology, but good practice has no place for them; yet almost everyone attributes human behaviour to inten- tions, purposes, aims, and goals. If it is still possible to ask whether a machine can show purpose, the question im- plies, significantly, that if it can it will more closely re- semble a man. Physics and biology moved farther away from personi- fied causes when they began to attribute the behaviour of things to essences, qualities, or natures.

Biology continued for a long time to appeal to the nature of living things, and it did not wholly abandon vital forces until the twentieth century. Almost everyone who is concerned with human affairs - as political scientist, philosopher, man of letters, econo- mist, psychologist, linguist, sociologist, theologian, anthro- pologist, educator, or psychotherapist - continues to talk about human behaviour in this pre-scientific way.

Every issue of a daily paper, every magazine, every professional journal, every book with any bearing whatsoever on human behaviour will supply examples. We are told that to control the number of people in the world we need to change attitudes toward children, overcome pride in size of family or in sexual potency, build some sense of re- sponsibility towards offspring, and reduce the role played by a large family in allaying concern for old age.

To work for peace we must deal with the will to power or the paranoid delusions of leaders; we must remember that wars begin in the minds of men, that there is something suicidal in man - a death instinct, perhaps - which leads to war, and that man is aggressive by nature. To solve the problems of the poor we must inspire self-respect, en- courage initiative, and reduce frustration. To allay the disaffection of the young we must provide a sense of pur- pose and reduce feelings of alienation or hopelessness.

This is staple fare. Yet there is nothing like it in modern physics or most of biology, and that fact may well explain why a science and a technology of behaviour have been so long delayed. Cer- tain stubborn questions about the nature of mind have, of course, been debated for more than twenty-five hun- dred years and still go unanswered.

How, for example, can the mind move the body? To that ques- tion the Greeks had a simple answer: from the gods. As Dodds has pointed out, the Greeks believed that if a man behaved foolishly, it was because a hostile god had planted arr infatuation in his breast.

On Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B. F. Skinner

Perkupp, and would not show to Lupin for anything. The crisis had yet to come; for Lupin arrived, and, opening his letter, showed a cheque for 25 as a commission for the recommendation of Mr. Beyond Freedom and Dignity is a very contoversial book, as are the teachings of Dr. All college students at the least, haven taken Psychology , have been introduced to his pigeon conditioning. What makes this book controversial is his basic premise of the age-old question of free will vs.

Behaviourism and the Work of B. Skinner 2. Watson and Classical Behaviourism — Basic Ideas 2. The Empirical Origin 3. Beyond Freedom and Dignity — a Summary 4.

Beyond freedom and dignity

B F Skinner was a professor of psychology at Harvard. He conducted pioneering work on experimental psychology and argued for behaviorism, a view that free will is an illusion. His provocative book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, published in , put forward his controversial case for behaviorism. It was a controversial attack on libertarian thinkers, advocates of autonomy and the idea of autonomous man. He argued that ideas such as individual autonomy, free will, volition, and consciousness act as barriers for advances in technology for controlling human behaviour.

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