Why Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior Is Right

Anecdotal Evidence

1/3/2009

My wife and I eat in the living room watching TV, as usual. As usual again, she is done first, loads the dishwasher, leaves it open, and yells  “Can you rinse and load your plate and start the dishwasher?” (She cannot bear to see a single plate sitting in the sink, when she has just loaded the rest of the dishes.)

The response of interest is the verbal response

“Can you rinse and load your plate and start the dishwasher?”

uttered under the above mentioned conditions (Sunday noon, lunchtime, she has finished eating, I am still eating, she has loaded the dishwasher, etc.)

It is a verbal response – the disturbances in the air caused by the utterance “Can you rinse and load your plate and start the dishwasher?” cannot cause much physical effect in themselves — they may at most extinguish a burning candle nearby. However, if there is a trained human within hearing distance, they may cause a considerable effect — such as my plate being rinsed and placed in the dishwasher, the dishwasher being closed, and the Start button being pushed. It is Skinner’s breakthrough insight that utterances can be analyzed as behavior that produce effect via the meditation of humans, in a strictly deterministic  framework. (This is a huge step forward.  )

Deterministic Framework:

What is beautiful and brilliant about this explanation is that none of the following is necessary:

TBD

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