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Behaviorism is widely used to refer to the philosophy of a science of behavior. There are various forms of behaviorism: structuralism, behaviorism that uses cognition as causal factors (e.g., cognitive behavior modification), social learning theory, in addition to methodological behaviorism and radical behaviorism. In his text, About Behaviorism (Skinner, 1974 ), B. F. Skinner wrote: “Behaviorism is not the science of human behavior, it is the philosophy of that science” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007 ).
Prior to the introduction of behavioral science, the field of psychology consisted of the study of states of mind and mental processes. There are four historical building blocks of behaviorism: classical conditioning as presented by Pavlov, Thorndike’s law of effect, Watson’s experiments with human conditioning, and Skinner’s conceptualization of operant conditioning.
Behaviorist learning theory is a psychology‐grounded pedagogical line of thought, based on the idea that behavior can be researched scientifically without consideration of cognitive states. The primary hypothesis is that learning is influenced solely by physical variables such as environmental or material reinforcement. By dismissing the influence of mental variables, behaviorist theories propose that free will is an illusion and that responses can be determined and conditioned. Key figures essential to the development of these theories include Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner.
Utsunomiya University, Japan
This paper argues that the strict computational behaviorist position for the modeling of intelligence does not scale to human-like problems and performance. This is accomplished by showing that the task of visual search can be viewed within the behaviorist framework and that the ability to search images (or any other sensory field) of the world to find stimuli on which to act is a necessary component of any behaving, intelligent agent. If targets are not explicitly known and used to help optimize search, the search problem is NP-hard. Knowledge of the target is of course explicitly forbidden in the strict interpretation of the published behaviorist dogma. Also, the paper summarizes the existing neurobiological and behavioral realities as they pertain to behaviorist claims. The conclusion is that there is very little support from biology for strict behaviorism. Strict adherence to the philosophy of the behaviorists means that efforts to demonstrate that the paradigm scales to humansize problems are certain to fail, as are attempts to evaluate it as a model of human intelligence. The strict position thus cannot be what the behaviorists really mean. It would benefit the research community if they could elucidate their terms, and provide theoretical arguments that support claims of scalability.
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