Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. David O. Lyon
Dr. Jack L. Michael
Dr. Paul T. Mountjoy
Dr. Arthur Falk
Mentalistic psychology thrives in the absence of a satisfactory, naturalistic account of complex human behavior. Inadequacies in the radical behavioral position with respect to complex events are of two sorts. First, the complexity of such events is undermined, either by reducing the latter; or, by providing only a very superficial treatment of events at their own level of complexity. The former procedure applies to Skinner's treatment of verbal behavior; the latter to his distinction between rule governed and contingency shaped behavior. Second, the analyses made of some classes of complex phenomena indicate a commerce with metaphysical philosophy, and they thereby fail to meet the criterion of naturalism. The dichotomy of public and private events illustrates this inadequacy. For these reasons the radical behavioral account of complex human behavior does not constitute a viable alternative to the interpretation advanced by the mentalist.
These problems in the radical behavioral position may be traced to a single source: The assumptions upon which the position is founded have not been articulated and formalized as propositions. Consequently, a postulational system has not evolved. As a result, hypotheses and theories may be formulated without restraint, and findings and investigations lack systematic organization. A coherent and thoroughly naturalistic account of complex phenomena cannot be expected to arise under such conditions. What is needed is an acknowledgement of the logical character of science, and with that, the construction of a satisfactory postulational system from which legitimate conceptual and methodological extensions of the science may emanate.
Parrott, Linda J., "Complex Behavior: A Systematic Reformulation of Radical Behavioral Analyses" (1983). Dissertations. 2436.