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Jay Moore


Early approaches to psychology assumed that mental life was the appropriate subject matter of the new science, and that introspective verbal reports and reaction times were the appropriate methods to support inferences about that subject matter. The problem was that these early approaches were vague, unreliable, and generally ineffective. Methodological behaviorism arose as an attempt to deal with this problem by asserting that theories and explanations in psychology, as well as the concepts they deployed, should be agreed upon. The key to agreement was that psychologists should talk only about observables, although talk of mental unobservables was later permitted if they were designated as theoretical constructs that were operationally defined through their relation to observables. This later view remains prominent in traditional psychology. The radical behaviorism of B. F. Skinner’s behavior analysis offers an alternative based on a critical analysis of the behavioral sources of control over a given term. In particular, the radical behaviorist concept of private behavioral events provides a unified account of nature in behavioral terms.

Key words: verbal behavior, methodological behaviorism, radical behaviorism, operationism, prediction and control, private behavioral events, covering law, scientific method 

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