Why methodological behaviorism is mentalistic

Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 9 (2):20-27 (1989)
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To be familiar with Skinner's radical behaviorism is to be familiar with its objections to both methodological behaviorism and mentalism. However, the relation between methodological behaviorism and mentalism is often not clear. Methodological behaviorism is generally held to be an attempt to explain behavior in terms of inter subjectively verifiable phenomena, whereas mentalism is generally held to be an attempt to explain behavior in terms of inner causes. The central issue is why does methodological behaviorism adopt the position that observable data constitute the leverage by which to speak meaningfully and respectably of phenomena that are not publicly verifiable. The answer to this question deals with the epistemology of the scientist, and will reveal at least three ways in which methodological behaviorism is mentalistic: its view of language, its conventional interpretation of operationism, and its view of logic. These topics are discussed, along with the non-mentalistic epistemology of radical behaviorism. Although radical behaviorism does share some of the same history as methodological behaviorism, it is clear that it seeks a nonmentalistic, behaviorally consistent epistemology that is very different from that of methodological behaviorism. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)



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