Chomsky 's Model For Verbal Behavior Essay

783 Words Dec 24th, 2015 4 Pages
Noam Chomsky criticizes B.F. Skinner’s model for verbal behavior. Chomsky thinks that Skinner overreaches as he applies his model for non-human operant behavior to human linguistic behavior, because Skinner extrapolated his model for the former from controlled experimental settings while the latter exists in much more complex situations. Simply, Chomsky thinks that Skinner’s model for verbal behavior is unscientific, and therefore unusable either as an explanation for verbal behavior or as a basis to build further knowledge. For Chomsky, Skinner’s model only addresses the most superficial aspects of verbal behavior, wrongly conflates artificial environments with naturally occurring ones and terms from experimental psychology with their homonyms from popular vocabulary. Also, Chomsky shows that Skinner provides no experimental evidence to support his model for verbal behavior and further, makes no attempt to understand verbal behavior before attempting to model it. According to Chomsky, Skinner’s model for verbal behavior is unscientific because it reaches beyond its scope and is unprovable. Chomsky’s assessment of Skinner’s model is sound; however, Chomsky himself overreaches when he rejects completely Skinner’s application of his model for operant behavior to that of verbal behavior. Chomsky is correct that Skinner’s model for operant behavior does not accurately describe the full scope of verbal behavior because the model is too simple to describe the complexities of…

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