The Behaviorisms of Skinner and Quine: Genesis, Development, and Mutual Influence

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B. F. Skinner and W. V. Quine, arguably the two most influential proponents of behaviorism in mid-twentieth century psychology and philosophy, are often considered brothers in arms. They were close friends, they had remarkably parallel careers, and they both identified as behaviorists. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the relation between the two. How did Skinner and Quine develop their varieties of behaviorism? In what ways did they affect each other? And how similar are their behaviorisms to begin with? In this paper, I shed new light on the relation between Skinner and Quine by infusing the debate with a wide range of new and previously unexamined evidence from the personal and academic archives of Skinner and Quine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-730
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the History of Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Chomsky
  • Quine
  • Skinner
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Word and Object
  • behaviorism
  • meaning
  • operationism
  • phenomenalism


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