Modern Perspectives on B. F. Skinner and Contemporary Behaviorism

By James T. Todd; Edward K. Morris | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Some Historical and Conceptual Relations among Logical Positivism, Behaviorism, and Cognitive Psychology

Jay Moore

Logical positivism, behaviorism, and cognitive psychology are three of the most influential intellectual positions of the twentieth century. Logical positivism is an approach to philosophy, Whereas behaviorism and cognitive psychology are generally regarded as competing orientations in contemporary psychology. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the historical and conceptual relations.

We will begin by briefly reviewing the history and principal features of the three positions. We will then consider three specific conceptual issues germane to the relation among the three positions: (1) the interpretation of theoretical terms, (2) type--identity physicalism, and (3) epistemological dualism. After examining these three conceptual issues, we will turn to Skinner's radical behaviorism to examine how it differs from the positions reviewed to that point.

This chapter is not concerned so much with examining the technical features of the positions, as would a philosopher of science. Rather, it will examine the positions from the point of view of an informed reader of the psychological literature. Let us begin, then, by briefly examining the history and principal features of the three points of view.


HISTORY AND PRINCIPAL FEATURES OF LOGICAL POSITIVISM, BEHAVIORISM, AND COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Logical Positivism

Logical positivism is an orientation to philosophy which holds that all meaningful statements must either be verifiable in terms of directly observable

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