In defence of behaviourism : a Skinnerian reinterpretation of Stenhouse's ethological theory of intelligence, supported by a Galilean philosophy of science : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Education at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis attempts to justify a Skinnerian interpretation of intelligence. The justification has three major themes. Firstly it is argued that Skinnerian behaviourism has the status of scientific knowledge comparable to Newtonian mechanics. Secondly it is argued that Stenhouse's ethological theory of intelligence has a number of defects, so that a behaviourist theory which retains the strengths of the ethological theory while avoiding those defects is to be preferred. Thirdly it is argued that certain widely received accounts of scientific knowledge are mistaken; an alternative account is presented. This venture into philosophy of science underlies the other two themes and is presented first. The supposition that science may be represented in terms of general laws of the form 'All swans are white' is critically examined, following Toulmin's analysis which is illustrated with three exemplars of scientific knowledge. A Galilean ideal of science is then elaborated. The ideal is formulated in terms of scientific knowledge following Toulmin, and illustrated with three exemplars of scientific knowledge. The processes of revolutionary science, normal science, technology, and justification of theories, are interpreted in terms of the ideal alluded to above with further illustrations. Convergences with de Bono's 'lateral thinking' are suggested. Criticisms of statistical 'social science' are noted. The conventional contrast between physical and social science is critically examined. A formulation of Skinnerian behaviourism is presented, to demonstrate that behaviourism conforms to the Galilean ideal of science. Various criticisms of behaviourism are responded to. The proposed criteria for justification of theories are applied to behaviourism. Stenhouse's ethological theory of the nature and evolution of intelligence is criticially examined. The divergent development of ethology and behaviourism from reflexology is outlined. Skinner's critique of Pavlov's concept 'inhibition' is applied to Stenhouse's 'P-factor'. The use of metaphors in science is discussed. De Bono's 'special memory surface' is noted as an alternative to the usual mechanical or electronic storage systems as a metaphor for memory. Skinner's analysis of the nature and evolution of intelligence is elaborated. Stenhouse's factors and especially the P-factor are reinterpreted in behaviourist terms. It is argued that a behaviourist theory of intelligence is preferable to Stenhouse's ethological theory in terms of the Galilean ideal of science. Educational and political implications of various philosophical and theoretical positions are also noted.
Philosophy, Science, Intellect, Behaviorism (Psychology)