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The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 307–320 | Cite as

Epistemological barriers to radical behaviorism

  • William T. O’DonohueEmail author
  • Glenn M. Callaghan
  • L. E. Ruckstuhl
Article

Abstract

The historian and philosopher of science Gaston Bachelard proposed the concept of epistemological barriers to describe the intellectual challenges encountered by scientists in their work. In order to embrace novel ways of approaching a problem in science, scientists must overcome barriers or obstacles posed by their prior views. For example, Einsteinian physics presents scientists with claims that space is curved and that time and space are on the same continuum. We utilize Bachelard’s concept of epistemological barriers to describe the differences between the intellectual journeys students pursuing advanced studies face when attempting to accept cognitive psychology or radical behaviorism. We contend that the folk psychological beliefs that students typically hold when entering these studies pose less challenge to cognitive psychology than to radical behaviorism. We also suggest that these barriers may also partly be involved in the problematic exegesis that has plagued radical behaviorism. In close, we offer some suggestions for dealing with these epistemological barriers.

Key words

radical behaviorism epistemological barriers 

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. O’Donohue
    • 1
    Email author
  • Glenn M. Callaghan
    • 1
  • L. E. Ruckstuhl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology/298University of NevadaRenoUSA

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