Re: What Was Right About Behaviourism?

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Fri Jun 07 1996 - 22:17:23 BST

> From: "Whitman Harry" <>
> Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 05:19:38 +0000
> The most valuable achievement realised by this discipline was to
> exclude from scientific study introspectionism. John Watson, probably
> the first real behaviourist typified the approach and dismissed
> introspectionism for it's necessary subjectiveness:- the only valid
> scientific approach to limit study to specific stimuli and consequent
> observable periferal muscular and glandular responses. Thus
> emphasising that which the organism does, it's observable behaviour,
> not untestable introspection (mental data).


> This brought with it genuine,
> discliplined scientific methods allowing repeatable and thus
> checkable research involoving the collection of data from observed
> phenomena. Behaviourism can certainly be said to be able to explain
> some behaviour, of cognitively simple animals in carefully restricted
> circumstances. Such successes and together with the apparantly
> watertight scientific method did elevate the status and credibility of
> psychology to previously unseen heights which additionally led to
> successful clinical application of behaviourist principles in the
> treatment of phobias. Despite much activity by those who promote
> the 'mentalistic theory' approach, (how we see yellow or feel
> pain) the behaviourists are right to deny this method as essentially
> flawed as untestable.Behaviourism is much maligned but has played
> a fundemental role inthe establishment of psychology within the life
> sciences and has managed to be the dominant paradigm in the field
> for the majority this century.

Good job; for an A, elate to what's worng with behaviourism, as well as
to the issue of reverse engineering.

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