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Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990), regarded by many as the most important and influential psychologist since Freud, earned his doctorate in psychology at Harvard University in 1931. Following appointments at the University of Minnesota and Indiana University, he returned to Harvard in 1948. He remained there for the rest of his career, retiring in 1974 as Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology.
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Walden Two is a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. In its time, it could have been considered science fiction, since science-based methods for altering people's behavior did not yet exist. Such methods are now known as applied behavior analysis.
Walden Two is controversial because its characters speak of a rejection of free will, including a rejection of the proposition that human behavior is controlled by a non-corporeal entity, such as a spirit or a soul. Walden Two embraces the proposition that the behavior of organisms, including humans, is determined by environmental variables, and that systematically altering environmental variables can generate a sociocultural system that very closely approximates utopia.
FROM THE PREFACE:
“It is now widely recognized that great changes must be made in the American way of life. Not only can we not face the rest of the world while consuming and polluting as we do, we cannot for long face ourselves while acknowledging the violence and chaos in which we live. The choice is clear: either we do nothing and allow a miserable and probably catastrophic future to overtake us, or we use our knowledge about human behavior to create a social environment in which we shall live productive and creative lives and do so without jeopardizing the chances that those who follow us will be able to do the same. Something like a Walden Two would not be a bad start.”