Critically examine the mentalist/rationalist critique of behaviorist paradigms of language learning. Evaluate the relative importance of innate language faculty and processes of socialization in language acquisition.
The theory of Behaviorism began with J.B.Watson1 in 1913 asserting that proper subject in psychology was not the operation of the mind rather the examination of objective, observable behavior. Its theoretical goal was the prediction and control of behavior. Only observable and overt behavior was relevant. All mentalistic terms were deleted. Its essence can be capsuled as:
Psychology is a science of behavior and not the science of mind.
Behavior can be described without making reference to mental events or to internal psychological processes. The sources of behavior are external (in the environment), not internal (in the mind).
It talks of molecular combinations than molar ones with the bottom up approach being followed.
With reference to language related behavior also the Behaviorists including Skinner strongly claim that the “contribution of the speaker is quite trivial” and that verbal behavior may be predicted on the basis of external factors, which have already been isolated experimentally with lower organisms. Chomsky’s critique stands from the assumptions of; in particular, the absurd ideas of language related behavior. In his article “A Brief of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior2”, he seems to be actually against the whole approach of behaviorism and at many places challenges their key assumptions (as would be proved shortly). To avoid repetition, I will put forth the mentalists/ behaviorist assumptions corresponding to the critiques on them by Skinner. Criticism of Skinner’s speculations regarding language is rather a more general critique of Behaviorist (or empiricist) speculation as to the nature of higher mental processes.
The rationalist views on language learning are in contrast with the behaviorists’ views...