Behaviorism is the conceptual framework underlying a particular science of behavior rather than that science itself. This framework consists of a philosophy of science, a philosophy of mind, an empirical background theory, and an ideology. My goal is to present a conceptual reconstruction of behaviorism, beginning with a few fundamental premises and then examining their logical development. In following a logical rather than a chronological order, such a reconstruction differs from a history of behaviorism. Yet, the reconstruction will take into account ideas proposed throughout the history of behaviorism.
Because it is fruitless to look for necessary and sufficient conditions to identify behaviorist ideas, I shall portray a loose family resemblance which characterizes the variety of positions that constitute behaviorism. I shall include both philosophical behaviorism and behavior therapy as members of the behaviorist conceptual family.
In this reconstruction of behaviorism, the fundamental premise is that psychology is a natural science. Two corollaries are that psychology is to be empirically based and that it is to be objective. To a large extent, the reconstruction of behaviorism is the elaboration of what it means for psychology to be empirical and objective.
After dominating American psychology for nearly a half century, behaviorism today finds itself on the defensive. New and competing approaches to psychology have arisen in the wake of advances in psycholinguistics, cognitive science, and philosophy. A reformulation of behaviorism is called for-- one that takes into account these critical challenges. Some of them may be integrated into behaviorist thought to create a more sophisticated and viable behaviorism. Others must be either discarded if found wanting or conceded as damaging refutations of aspects of behaviorism.
Behaviorism is not the science of behavior developed by behaviorists since the turn of the century. It is, rather, the conceptual framework underlying