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BURRHUS FREDERIC SKINNER QUOTES

Freedom is sometimes defined as a lack of resistance or restraint. A wheel turns freely if there is very little friction in the bearing, a horse breaks free from the post to which it has been tethered, a man frees himself from the branch on which he has been caught while climbing a tree. Physical restraint is an obvious condition, which seems particularly useful in defining freedom, but with respect to important issues, it is a metaphor and not a very good one. People are indeed controlled by fetters, handcuffs, strait jackets, and the walls of jails and concentration camps, but what may be called behavioral control--the restraint imposed by contingencies of reinforcement--is a very different thing.

BURRHUS FREDERIC SKINNER, Beyond Freedom & Dignity

What we may call the "literature of freedom" has been designed to induce people to escape from or attack those who act to control them aversively. The content of the literature is the philosophy of freedom, but philosophies are among those inner causes which need to be scrutinized. We say that a person behaves in a given way because he possesses a philosophy, but we infer the philosophy from the behavior and therefore cannot use it in any satisfactory way as an explanation, at least until it is in turn explained. The literature of freedom, on the other hand, has a simple objective status. It consists of books, pamphlets, manifestoes, speeches, and other verbal products, designed to induce people to act to free themselves from various kinds of intentional control. It does not impart a philosophy of freedom; it induces people to act.

BURRHUS FREDERIC SKINNER, Beyond Freedom & Dignity


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