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Refuting Skinner's Approach as a Universal Explanation of Human Behavior . Maybe Postmodernism is a Good Thing???. What is Modernism?. According to the 1913 edition of Webster :

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refuting skinner s approach as a universal explanation of human behavior

Refuting Skinner's Approach as a Universal Explanation of Human Behavior

Maybe Postmodernism is a Good Thing???

what is modernism
What is Modernism?
  • According to the 1913 edition of Webster:
  • \Mod "ern *ism \, n.Certain methods and tendencies which ,in Biblical questions ,apologetics ,and the theory of dogma ,in the endeavor to reconcile the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church with the conclusions of modern science ,replace the authority of the church by purely subjective criteria ; -- so called officially by Pope Pius X.
modernism in psychology
Modernism in Psychology
  • The endeavor to explain human behavior in scientific terms, according to a (generally) scientific principle, reducing all of human behavior to that principle.
  • Skinner is an example of this, and so is Freud and others.
modernism and truth
Modernism and Truth
  • Modernism -though it rebels against the establishment, believes in its power to explain, to (in psychology) find basic principles that explain the whole of human behavior.
  • This is why, for example Skinner constructs a utopian society in Walden II, or why he writes a book like Beyond Freedom and Dignity that addresses all social practices.
modernism and relativism
Modernism and Relativism
  • Because in modernism, the various explanations of human behavior are generated by human beings, and not by divine authority, modernism accepts a multiplicity of points of view.
is one point of view better
Is one point of view better?
  • Modernism believes that points of view can be compared and debated (as in the Watson- McDougall debate)
  • They would see one point of view as perhaps better grounded and closer to the truth.
  • Modernists still hold, at least implicitely, to a concept of absolute truth. They disagree on where is the most promising path to it.
critiquing skinner from a modernist standpoint
Critiquing Skinner from a Modernist Standpoint
  • This type of critique admits of the possibility of constructing an all-encompassing theory, but points to shortcomings, things that are not included, important aspects of human experience that are not included, that Skinner chose not to study.
examples of such critiques
Examples of such critiques
  • How would Skinner explain that when human beings become aware that they are being manipulated or conditioned, they can react differently, and choose to change the ways in which they behave?
  • How would you explain that children INSIST on speaking in ways their parents never spoke to them (ex: my foots) and never reinforced?
  • Important areas of life are ignored (motivation, goals, dreams, thoughts) in his theory
how do such critiques stand
How do such critiques stand?
  • The reflectivity critique is pretty strong, but could be explained away in terms of prior training.
  • The language critique led to the Skinner-Chomsky debate
  • Some behaviorists after Skinner have tried to treat thoughts as behaviors. Skinner would say that thoughts etc are epiphenomena.
how satisfactory are these critiques
How satisfactory are these critiques?
  • Not very.
  • The debate tends to stay open, with both sides feeling they have won.
  • The postmodernist critique is more powerful.
what is postmodernism
What is Postmodernism
  • Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality.
postmodernism and truth
Postmodernism and Truth
  • Postmodernism can be understood as a "critique of the grand narratives" (Lyotard). Because we live in a global world, we have become aware of diversity, and we can see all knowledge cannot all be put together in one box, and put in order.
  • Postmodernism would deny one's ability to get out of one's box and make valid generalized pronouncements about the human condition, or about absolute truth.
postmodernist critique of skinner
Postmodernist critique of Skinner.
  • Skinner cannot get out of his "box" as a controlled human being himself to make general pronouncements about human society and how it functions.
  • Such statements, at their best, will only have very partial applicability.
how does this critique stand
How does this critique stand?
  • It does stand. It is the strongest critique.
  • It allows for the partial usefulness of Skinner's approach, but not for its all-encompassing claims.
what a relief hurray for postmodernism
What a relief! Hurray for postmodernism!
  • Really?
  • It questions your own favorite psychological, scientific and theological positions in the same manner.
  • Are you comfortable with this? How do you deal with this in the positions that affect your own life?
postmodernism and christianity
Postmodernism and Christianity
  • Here are some resources on postmodernism from an evangelical Christian perspective.