Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

A Radical Behaviorist Methodology for the Empirical Investigation of Private Events

U. T. Place
Behavior and Philosophy
Vol. 20/21, Vol. 20, no. 2 - Vol. 21, no. 1 (1993), pp. 25-35
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27759281
Page Count: 11
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
A Radical Behaviorist Methodology for the Empirical Investigation of Private Events
Preview not available

Abstract

Skinner has repeatedly asserted that he does not deny either the existence of private events or the possibility of studying them scientifically. But he has never explained how his position in this respect differs from that of the mentalist or provided a practical methodology for the investigation of private events within a radical behaviorist perspective. With respect to the first of these deficiencies, I argue that observation statements describing a public state of affairs in the common public environment of two or more observers which those observers confirm as a correct description provide a far more objective and secure foundation for empirical knowledge than statements describing private events in the experience of a single individual. In the course of this argument, I also invoke Wittgenstein's (1953) demonstration — his 'private language argument' — of the incoherence of traditional subjective empiricism. Regarding the second deficiency, I argue that observation statements describing private events can serve as data for an objective study, provided that (a) the verbal behavior in which they consist and its context are objectively observed and recorded, and (b) an explanation is given of how this verbal behavior is generated by the events it reports.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
25
    25
  • Thumbnail: Page 
26
    26
  • Thumbnail: Page 
27
    27
  • Thumbnail: Page 
28
    28
  • Thumbnail: Page 
29
    29
  • Thumbnail: Page 
30
    30
  • Thumbnail: Page 
31
    31
  • Thumbnail: Page 
32
    32
  • Thumbnail: Page 
33
    33
  • Thumbnail: Page 
34
    34
  • Thumbnail: Page 
35
    35