3 VERBAL BEHAVIOR AND AUTHENTIC SPEECH Kevin Regan Smith M. Merleau-Ponty and B. F. Skinner have radically different conceptions of linguistic meaning. In the following comparison of their views on language a focus upon the relation between thought and language reveals an important difference in how each conceives of reference as well as the implications of this difference for their theories as a whole. Skinner on the Relation Between Verbal Behavior and Thought The Concept of Verbal Behavior Skinner begins his analysis in Verbal Behavior ( 1957-all further references to Skinner's work are to this text) with the assumption that "what happens when a man speaks or responds to speech is clearly a question about human behavior" (p. 5). Since speech and the response to it are behavior, the best approach to studying it is a behavioral science like psychology. By "behavior" Skinner means an observable event in nature controlled by other natural events and thus amenable to study by the methods of natural science. What is needed to develop a behavioral science treatment of verbal behavior is a satisfactory causal or functional analysis of the events that control it. Concerning the methods of this behavioral science, the
Journal of Phenomenological Psychology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1983
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