A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival

By E. Rae Harcum | Go to book overview

2
Bases for Belief

How do you go about convincing someone that human behavior is partially caused by some mindless genetic and environmental factors and also voluntarily selected from among many alternatives by some mysterious internal factor of mind? As behavioral scientists, we look to behavioral science for the answer to the difficult question of persuasion.

We begin with the definition of the concept of causality itself, because questions of cause and effect tend to direct us toward deterministic thinking. Then, we take up issues concerning the nature of science and proof.


CAUSALITY

The philosophical problems with the concept of causality are enormous. In fact, some philosophers and scientists ( Manicas & Secord, 1983; Oppenheimer, 1956) actually deny our conventional conception of physical causality. According to this conception we cannot say that Event A causes Event B unless we can show that no other event than A exerts an influence on Event B. Because you cannot prove a negative, that no other possible influence was present, logically therefore you can never unambiguously prove a cause for any event. For example, if I fill an empty swimming pool with a million black marbles and one white one and allow someone repeated dips of a bucket to take samples of marbles from the pool (replacing the marbles each time), even a very large number of dips that do not retrieve the white marble will not allow that person to conclude that there are no white marbles in the pool.

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A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • 1 - The Psychology Train 1
  • SUMMARY 24
  • 2 - Bases for Belief 25
  • SUMMARY 51
  • 3 - An Optimistic Agent 53
  • SUMMARY 67
  • 4 - Skinner's Gremlins 69
  • SUMMARY 99
  • 5 - Belief in Human Dignity 101
  • SUMMARY 121
  • 6 - Motivation to Work 123
  • SUMMARY 142
  • 7 Design for a Culture 170
  • References 173
  • Author Index 183
  • Subject Index 187
  • About the Author 191
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