Actions vs Goals

fr: Clark McPhail [930419.8:51CDT]

re: Greg Williams (930419) and Tom Bourbon [930416.1649 CDT]

re Tom Bourbon: [930416.1649 CDT]

most people who write about
inner direction write of the direction of ACTIONS, not of PERCEPTIONS.
I will not try, in the few minutes I have left on the net this
afternoon, to point out all of the reasons I believe Little is in that
group; I believe yuor opening quotation from him is enough. People
are "...AGENTS whose actions are directed by their beliefs, goals,
meanings, values, prohibitions, and scruples."

I think Tom is correct in his interpretation of this quotation from Little;
however, I now see what Greg was driving at as reiterated in the following

re: Greg Williams (930419)

I read the Little quotes with a different interpretation: that RCTers
(like PCTers) say that WHATEVER means (outputs) necessary to result in
perceived results (outcomes) matching desired ends (goals), given the
environmental context (disturbances) will be generated by rational
humans (humans with normally functioning control systems). In
particular, to me it sounds like he is saying that the RCTers claim
that goals, not outputs, are shared in cooperative social endeavors. I
guess the question now is which interpretation is more appropriate to
what RCTers actually say (as I pointed out in an earlier post, Little
isn't an RCTer himself). Clark, what do you think? I assume you've
read some writings by RCTers and their precursors. Do they emphasize
output specification or goal matching?

I think you are correct. They emphasize choosing between courses of action
on the basis of optimizing if not maximizing the goal of more benefits than
costs, more rewards than punishments. They absolutely do not address the
question of how that might be accomplished; and, they have given so little
attention to the complexity and variation of the "actions" that one can
observed and which conventional social and behavioral scientists attempt to
explain that they can not address the question of what an actor might do to
produce such outputs. Indeed this may be one way of distinguishing between
the variety of cognitive theories developed over the last twenty five years
which do offer explanations for how purposive actors attempt to control
output, and, the RCT theories with which I am familiar in sociology that
treat all such matters as "black box questions" and focus only on the
consequences of actors attempting to realize their goals.