Note what Chomsky is saying: that neither behaviorism nor any other scientific model can explain — or is even close to explaining — how humans learn language, which is arguably our defining trait. (In spite of his own emphasis on the genetic underpinnings of language, Chomsky has been cruelly dismissive of evolutionary psychology, which he once called a “philosophy of mind with a little bit of science thrown in.”)So Skinner and Freud continue to be idolized, long after they have been discredited, because of low standards in the field of psychology.
In a recent column on philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, I pointed out that some fields, especially “hard” ones like physics and chemistry, converge on a paradigm and rapidly progress, while others “remain in a state of constant flux.” Fields that address human thought and behavior—anthropology, economics, sociology, political science, psychology – are prime example of research endeavors that lurch faddishly from one paradigm to another.
Will psychologists ever find a paradigm powerful enough to unify the field and help it achieve the rigor of, say, nuclear physics or molecular biology? William James had his doubts. More than a century ago he fretted that psychology might never transcend its “confused and imperfect state.” Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner has argued that James’s concerns “have proved all too justified. Psychology has not added up to an integrated science, and it is unlikely ever to achieve that status.” Gardner once told me that questions about free will, the self, consciousness and other topics with which psychologists (and, tellingly, philosophers) wrestle might not be amenable to conventional scientific reductionism, in spite of all the advances of modern genetics, neuroscience and brain imaging.
I am told that Chomsky's views are in the minority, even tho everyone agrees that they were brilliant.
I believe that even the hard sciences have problems that are not solved by any scientific model, and they will never be. Free will is one. Physicists have lots of opinions about what is deterministic or probabilistic, but those opinions have no scientific basis.