America's Favorite Serial Killer

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One of the most controversial TV characters on modern television has got to be Dexter Morgan from the TV show Dexter. The premise of the show is that Dexter is a blood spatter analyst who works for Miami Metro Homicide. He is a proud father and was even a great husband to a lovely wife for a while in the show. However, Dexter has a secret. When Dexter was three he was locked in a storage crate with his mother and a few other people who owed drug cartel money. They were made an example and he witnessed them all get brutally killed by a chainsaw. For the rest of his life Dexter could only feel things by killing them and so he became one of the longest running serial killers in America. At first glance the story makes perfect sense. Dexter witnesses trauma and suddenly his life becomes the product of a horrific incident. But regardless of how novel the story sounds it sounds almost identical to B.F. Skinner's theory of radical behaviorism. Radical behaviorists would love Dexter's story because it confirms what they believe, "...all of our actions are products of preexisting causal influences" as stated by the Lilienfeld text. They would whole-heartedly agree that Dexter has no free will when he kills people. He's simply been conditioned and that killing is all he can do. Especially since his horrific incident happened at such a young age and they believe the first few years of life are absolutely critical in adult development and that we can't change very much upon reaching adulthood. But with radical behaviorism and with Dexter, there are several challenges with them to critical thinking. Causal thinking does play a large role in how we act and behave. Nature wouldn't have endowed us with such huge cerebral cortexes if thinking and reasoning wasn't a large part of human existence.

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Skinner would suggest that the behavior is a product of reinforcement and punishment histories. How do you think that applies here? Is it more like Freud's Psychic determinism? Could we think and reason and still end up making the same decisions in life? A picture would be good or imbed the video directly in the post.

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This page contains a single entry by mcnea034 published on November 22, 2011 12:34 AM.

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