Old 08-21-2003, 10:51 PM
jonr is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1

Chomsky obliterates Skinner

I found this message board while looking for a way to let Cecil know he had not done his usual first rate job in his column about the fate of B.F. Skinner. I hope this is in the right place to post it.

Skinner and behaviorism never recovered from Noam Chomsky's review of Skinner's 1957 book, "Verbal Behavior". Chomsky demonstrated that it is impossible to explain language acquisition with the behaviorist stimulus/response model and in general that intermal, innate mental structures need to be considered for any coherent, non-trivial theory of language and behavior. I am not aware of any behaviorist response, and Chomsky's views (on this matter) have carried the day. Stephen Pinker for example writes best sellers that adopt Chomsky's views.
Old 08-21-2003, 11:17 PM
Ice Wolf is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 8,379
Link to the article you referred to, jonr:
Whatever became of B. F. Skinner?

Welcome to the SDMB.
Old 08-22-2003, 03:40 PM
zimaane is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: washington, dc
Posts: 929
It is an enormous exaggeration to say that Chomsky obliterated Skinner with a single book review.

B.F. Skinner's theories encompass far more than how people learn to speak, which is essentially what Chomsky's research was about. Skinner was studying behavior in general, including pigeons, who don't talk at all.
Old 08-22-2003, 10:29 PM
C K Dexter Haven is offline
Right Hand of the Master
Charter Member
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Chicago north suburb
Posts: 16,078
Some pigeons not only talk, they get elected to the U.S. Senate... or run for Governor of California.
Old 08-23-2003, 01:35 PM
MusicJunkie is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 364
Behaviorism is not stymulus response psychology, at least not Skinner's radical behaviorism. Watson's on the other hand, was.


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