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Beyond Freedom and Dignity

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Professional Psychology: Debating Chamber · Psychology Journals · Psychologists

Beyond Freedom and Dignity is a book-length essay written by American psychologist B. F. Skinner and first published in 1971. The book argued that entrenched belief in free will and the moral autonomy of the individual (which Skinner referred to as "dignity") hindered the prospect of building a happier and better organized society through the use of scientific techniques for modifying behavior.

Skinner's book joined the catalog of works which have called, always very controversially, for altering human nature through the use of scientific techniques. Skinner's proposal is somewhat unusual in that it advocates an approach based entirely on psychological techniques (primarily operant conditioning), without recourse to genetic or biological modification.

Beyond Freedom and Dignity followed Walden Two, a novel in which Skinner depicted a utopian community based on his ideas regarding behavior modification.

Linguist Noam Chomsky and writer Ayn Rand wrote influential works attacking Skinner's methods and conclusions.

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