chapter  3
24 Pages

Some Arguments Against Behaviorism

In Chapter 2, I concentrated on arguments against mentalism and, in particular, its instantiation in the form of contemporary cognitive psychology. However, this exercise would be incomplete and inadequate, not to say unfair, if I did not make an equivalent effort to consider the many criticisms that have been made against behaviorism. There has been a long-term outpouring of extremely abrasive, in part unprincipled, and certainly unscientific criticism against behaviorism in all of its varieties. The reason for this antagonism is not hard to discern. Behaviorism strikes hard at many of the most deeply held features of human culture, religion, and history, as well as our individual self-esteem. It is perceived by many, if not most, people as a hostile and threatening enterprise attacking things that are very important to us. It challenges some of the most deeply held concepts concerning the meaning of our lives and our ultimate destinies. Within the scientific psychology community, behaviorism is also threatening in view of the huge commitment that has been made to the yet-to-be proven or disproven assumptions of the accessibility and analyzability of human mental processes. To contradict the basic premises of that enormous effort is to strike at not only an enormous scientific enterprise but also, nowadays, a vast economic empire.