A Wish and a Plea

[From Fred Nickols (2004.08.30.0917)] --

[From Hank Folson (2004.08.29)]

>Marc Abrams (2004.08.29.1258)
>
>snip <
>..PCT needs to integrate itself with all existing theories that make
>sense, _NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND_. Because we need to account for all the
>behavior they do, and do a better job of explaining it.

How can you possibly "integrate" theories that state that
organisms are responsive with perceptual control theory that
states that organisms are purposive? They are opposites.

I think I understand what Hank is driving at in the remark immediately above
but I'm having difficulty with the way it's stated. First, I'm not sure
that "purposive" and "responsive" are "opposites." Second, I have a gnawing
sense that there's a false dichotomy lurking in there somewhere (e.g., I'm
not sure that "purposive" and "responsive" are mutually exclusive).
Consider, as a similar example, the oft-used notions of "reactive" vs
"proactive." Both are labels for observable, patterned behaviors. Both are
labels for explanations of those patterns. Commonplace observations produce
comments to the effect that a given person might be behaving in ways that
are labeled "reactive" in one situation and "proactive" in another. It
seems to me that the same is true of "purposive" and "responsive."

I think what is true that Bill Powers and Rick Marken (and others) do not
believe that there is any basis for integration or reconciliation between
the behaviorist explanation of human behavior and the explanation that
constitutes PCT. I do know that competing theories can in fact be
integrated, even if only partially. As one small example, consider
reinforcement theory a la Skinner, Watson et al and field theory a la Kurt
Lewin. The behaviorist point of view holds that positive reinforcement
occurs as the result of (a) the addition of a positive consequence or (b)
the removal of a negative or noxious stimulus. Negative reinforcement,
which very few ever talk about, is a mirror image; that is, negative
reinforcement (a.k.a. punishment) occurs as a result of (a) the addition of
a noxious stimulus or (b) the removal of a positive condition. Guess what?
Those factors are a perfect fit with the notions of driving and restraining
forces. Does that single, simple little example constitute an integration
of reinforcement theory and field theory? Of course not but it does
illustrate the potential for finding areas in common that are fundamentally
similar even if expressed differently. I suspect, for example, that those
actions or patterned behaviors that are effective in terms of achieving and
maintaining perceived conditions that are consistent with that individual's
reference conditions exhibit observable qualities (i.e., patterns) that are
consistent with a behaviorist's explanation. In the end, then, we ordinary
lay people are left with a choice between competing explanations. I like
the PCT view of people as living control systems much more than the
behaviorist view of people as organisms easily manipulated because they are
nothing more than a stimulus-response mechanism.

So I prefer the PCT baby but I'm not yet ready to toss the behaviorist
bathwater.

Regards,

Fred Nickols, CPT
Distance Consulting
"Assistance at a Distance"
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0830.1109)]

Fred Nickols (2004.08.30.0917)

So I prefer the PCT baby but I'm not yet ready to toss the behaviorist
bathwater.

I don't see anything wrong with an S-R perspective so long as you don't
try to use it as the basis of a causal model. It addresses the question
of the limited number of degrees of freedom that restricts the number
of perceptions we attempt to control at one time. I like cashews, but I
don't make a great effort to find them when they are not in sight. When
I spy a bowl of cashews at a party they seem to serve as a "stimulus",
but the mechanism by which I travel over to the bowl and grab a handful
is pure control, i.e., the so-called stimulus does not cause my
actions.

Bruce Gregoru

"Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No
Doubt: no awakening."

[From Fred Nickols (2004.08.30.0917)] --

...Commonplace observations produce
comments to the effect that a given person might be behaving in ways that
are labeled "reactive" in one situation and "proactive" in another. It
seems to me that the same is true of "purposive" and "responsive."

A control system is by definition always purposive internally, within itself. Observations of "purposive" or "responsive" behaviors are just that: observations by an Observer outside of the system. Except in the situation where the control system has a purpose to interact with the Observer, there is no connection between the two.

...I do know that competing theories can in fact be integrated, even if only >partially. As one small example, consider reinforcement theory a la Skinner, >Watson et al and field theory a la Kurt Lewin...

Why wander down that path? Why is it you are happy to compare those two theories, but not PCT versus behaviorism?

In the end, then, we ordinary
lay people are left with a choice between competing explanations. I like
the PCT view of people as living control systems much more than the
behaviorist view of people as organisms easily manipulated because they are
nothing more than a stimulus-response mechanism.

Okay, even a layman should be able to tell why he was stimulated by Hank Folson's post to Marc Abrams to respond: Why did one part of my post stimulate you instead of the other parts? Why did you respond to this post rather than the hundreds of other posts floating around CSGnet? Why did the stimulus cause you to only respond with a short statement rather than a serious paper? Or at all? How are my statements stimulating you now, if at all? Please put on your Behaviorist cap and let us know how you operate as a stimulus-response system.

PCT, on the other hand, is predictive. As you read my post to Marc, an error signal was generated, most likely by "How can you possibly "integrate" theories that state that organisms are responsive with perceptual control theory that states that organisms are purposive? They are opposites." This interfered with your stable environment of "cherry picking" the best of both worlds. The size of the error signal was large enough, and you had no other higher priorities being disturbed at the time, that you tried to reduce your error by writing a post. You did so without using vituperation, because you have a higher level reference level regarding that sort of thing.

Which analysis is closer to what was going on in your head, Fred?

There is a key difference between the two. In one, it was "responding", in the other, it was all "purposive". This is a lot different than just using different labels to describe the same thing.

So I prefer the PCT baby but I'm not yet ready to toss the behaviorist
bathwater.

If you would only drain out the muddy bathwater, Fred, you'd be able to see the PCT baby much better, and maybe be able to watch it grow.

Sincerely,
Hank Folson

···

From: "Hank Folson" <hank@henryjames.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 23:18:32 -0700
On August 30 2004, Fred Nickols <nickols@WORLDNET.ATT.NET> wrote:

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)]

"Hank Folson" <hank@henryjames.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 23:18:32 -0700

All the questions you raise about the S-R interpretation can be raised
with equal force about the PCT interpretation, which in this case is no
more predictive than the S-R interpretation. You have presented a
just-so story framed in PCT terms that "explains" Fred's post. If Fred
had responded differently, you could have no doubt presented an equally
convincing PCT story as to why he did so. As Bill pointed out a week or
so ago, PCT is no more predictive than other model. The organization of
individuals is much too complex to be reduced to a simple predictive
story, no matter how fond we are of PCT stories.

Bruce Gregory

"Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No
Doubt: no awakening."

[From Bill Powers (2004.09.01.0708 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)–

As Bill pointed out a week or
so ago, PCT is no more predictive than other model.

Hold on a minute, I said that? I sure didn’t mean to. Could you quote the
words that you’re referring to?

Whatever my words may have seemed to say, I think PCT is a heck of a lot
more predictive than other theories. What other theory says that if you
disturb the outcome of someone’s behavior, the behavior will change so
as to restore the outcome to its previous state? That is, provided you’ve
identified an outcome that the person is controlling.

The organization of
individuals is much too complex to be reduced to a simple predictive
story, no matter how fond we are of PCT stories.

I think you could be getting a little too fond of the “story”
story. This isn’t just a matter of sitting around a campfire and telling
ghost stories. Admittedly, Hank Folson was making up stories, trying to
make a point about your stories, but that’s not all that goes on
in PCT theorizing. Even in informal theorizing we often do tests to see
if the guess is totally wrong. It’s human nature to kick the tires before
believing the salesman’s pitch that they’re brand new. We’re not all
stupid and gullible.

As to the organization of human nature being too complex to predict, I
think that’s really wrong. The unpredictability of human behavior comes
about mainly because nature is full of unpredictable and even
undetectable causes of disturbances. If you turn your attention away from
what people do and toward what they’re controlling, everything becomes a
great deal more predictable. You can’t tell which nail a carpenter will
pick up next, or exactly where he will reach to pick up a hammer, but you
can predict that he will finish the wall he is building, that it will be
square, and that the studs will be on 16-inch centers. What he
accomplishes by his behavior is far more predictable than the actions he
uses to achieve the goals. Especially if you’ve taken the trouble to
interact with him for a while and watch him interacting with others and
with inanimate nature. You can get to know a person, find out what
matters to him or her, get an idea of what the person hopes for and
dreams of and likes to experience. You can check with the person to see
if you’re right. That’s a lot more meaningful and accurate than just
“telling stories.”

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.1221)]

Bill Powers (2004.09.01.0708 MDT)

Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)--

As Bill pointed out a week or so ago, PCT is no more predictive than other model.

Hold on a minute, I said that? I sure didn't mean to. Could you quote the words that you're referring to?

[From Bill Powers (2004.08.29.1127 MDT)]

Think of a model of human behavior. Does it explain what a person will do?
You have to know how a person is organized inside to do that -- that is,
the specific things the person wants at every level. And you have to know
what is happening around the person, too. So predicting (and controlling)
behavior can't really be the point of PCT.

Bruce Gregory

"Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."

[From Hank Folson (2004.0901.1200)]

Sorry for the missing header last time.

Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)

You have presented a
just-so story framed in PCT terms that "explains" Fred's post.

What I did was to ask Fred, who is knowledgeable about Behaviorism, to participate in an informal experiment. What may look like 2 just-so stories were simply attempts to frame the questions so there is clarity between PCT and behaviorism in this modest test case.

Fred will hopefully tell us whether he was just responding because I am so stimulating (Highly unlikely based on my lifetime track record...), or whether he was controlling against some disturbance I unintentionally created in his world. The worst case scenario will be if he tells us that both were happening independently.

...The organization of
individuals is much too complex to be reduced to a simple predictive
story, no matter how fond we are of PCT stories.

Sounds like the simple predictive story is that Bruce Gregory has a high level reference for "The organization of individuals is much too complex to be reduced to a simple predictive story." This is possibly coupled with an internal conflict that PCT sounds too easy...

This is clearly a just-so story. But if you can confirm it...

Sincerely,
Hank Folson

[From Rick Marken (2004.09.01.1150)]

Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.1221)

Bill Powers (2004.09.01.0708 MDT)

Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)--

As Bill pointed out a week or so ago, PCT is no more predictive than
other model.

Hold on a minute, I said that? I sure didn't mean to. Could you quote
the words that you're referring to?

[From Bill Powers (2004.08.29.1127 MDT)]

Think of a model of human behavior. Does it explain what a person will
do? You have to know how a person is organized inside to do that -- that is,
the specific things the person wants at every level. And you have to
know what is happening around the person, too. So predicting (and
controlling) behavior can't really be the point of PCT.

I don't see where, in this quote, Bill says that PCT is no more predictive
than other models.

Regards

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken
MindReadings.com
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

[From Dick Robertson, 2004.09.01.1405CDT]

···

From: Bruce Gregory bruce_gregory@SNET.NET

Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2004 5:36 am

Subject: Re: A Wish and a Plea

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.0635)]

“Hank Folson” hank@henryjames.com
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 23:18:32 -0700

All the questions you raise about the S-R interpretation can be raised
with equal force about the PCT interpretation, which in this case
is no
more predictive than the S-R interpretation. You have presented a
just-so story framed in PCT terms that “explains” Fred’s post. If Fred
had responded differently, you could have no doubt presented an
equallyconvincing PCT story as to why he did so. As Bill pointed
out a week or
so ago, PCT is no more predictive than other model. The
organization of
individuals is much too complex to be reduced to a simple predictive
story, no matter how fond we are of PCT stories.

But what is the implication you want us to draw? That S-R theory is as good as PCT as theory of behavior?

Best,

Dick R

Bruce Gregory

“Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No
Doubt: no awakening.”

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.1551)]

Dick Robertson, 2004.09.01.1405CDT

But what is the implication you want us to draw? That S-R theory is as good as PCT as theory of behavior?

Not at all. PCT is a greatly superior theory of behavior. But its superiority emerges at the level of models, not just-so stories. We often do not know what perceptions we are controlling, no less the perceptions others are controlling. Imagining that you have performed the Test and actually performing it are two different animals.

Bruce Gregory

"Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."

[From Dick Robertson, 2004.09.02.1700CDT]

···

From: Bruce Gregory bruce_gregory@SNET.NET

Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2004 2:51 pm

Subject: Re: A Wish and a Plea

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.0901.1551)]

Dick Robertson, 2004.09.01.1405CDT

But what is the implication you want us to draw? That S-R
theory is
as good as PCT as theory of behavior?

Not at all. PCT is a greatly superior theory of behavior. But its
superiority emerges at the level of models, not just-so stories.
We
often do not know what perceptions we are controlling, no less the
perceptions others are controlling. Imagining that you have
performed
the Test and actually performing it are two different animals.

OK point taken, but I find it pretty difficult to limit my thinking only to what is solidly established so far. A run into philosophical thinking now and then can help identify where experimentation needs to go.

Best,

Dick R.