B. F. Skinner - Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity

Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity

Skinner is popularly known mainly for his books Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. The former describes a visit to a fictional experimental community in 1940s United States, where the productivity and happiness of the citizens is far in advance of that in the outside world because of their practice of scientific social planning and use of operant conditioning in the raising of children.

Walden Two, like Thoreau's Walden, champions a lifestyle that does not support war or foster competition and social strife. It encourages a lifestyle of minimal consumption, rich social relationships, personal happiness, satisfying work and leisure. In 1967, Kat Kinkade founded the intentional community Twin Oaks, using Walden Two as a blueprint. The community is still in existence today and continues to use the Planner-Manager system and other aspects of the original book in its self-governance.

In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner suggests that a technology of behavior could help to make a better society. We would, however, have to accept that an autonomous agent is not the driving force of our actions. Skinner offers alternatives to punishment and challenges his readers to use science and modern technology to construct a better society.

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