What is the "autonomous man"?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Beyond Freedom and Dignity is the work of behavioral psychologist B F Skinner. Published in 1971, it was a bestseller. The book discusses the possibility of developing an ideal society through the use of technological advances and renounces the existence of free will (or freedom) and moral autonomy (or dignity). 

According to Skinner, the "autonomous man" is an illusion created by the literature on freedom and dignity, thereby deriding the prevalent view on free will and autonomy.

"What is being abolished is autonomous man- the inner man, the homonuculus, the possessing demon, the man defended by the literature of freedom and dignity." 

An autonomous man is one who is provided with, as per the contemporary literature, rights and virtues, and is believed to be capable of morality, free will and the right to choose. According to Skinner, these very ideas or illusions are detrimental to a good society; he suggests developing a society of more conditioned human beings (devoid of any dignity and freedom) capable of making decisions that will minimize the environmental damage and sustain their survival. Ultimately, this autonomous man will have to be replaced with an automated man. 

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