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Volume 48 • Number 3

July 2011




by Dagfinn Føllesdal

One often hears that Quine took his behaviorism from Skinner, whom he met in 1933 when they joined the first group of Harvard Junior Fellows. However, Quine reports that his behaviorism came earlier: Back in the 20s I had imbibed behaviorism at Oberlin from Raymond Stetson, who had wisely required us to study John B. Watson's Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist. In Czechoslovakia a few years later I had been confirmed in my behaviorism by Rudolf Carnap's physicalism, his Psychologie in physikalischer Sprache. So Fred [Skinner] and I met on common ground in our scorn of mental entities. Mind shmind; on that proposition we were agreed. The things of the mind were strictly for the birds. To say nothing of freedom and dignity. Quine's behaviorism changed considerably during his life. This article will trace these changes and their motivation. As a background for the discussion, the following two questions will be briefly discussed: What is behaviorism? Why should anybody be a behaviorist?

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ISSN: 2152-1123