Autonomy according to PCT

From Greg Williams (920513)

Again, I want to suggest caution in claiming that PCT supports an ideology of
individual autonomy/self-determination.

PCT hypothesizes that, at any particular time, an individual's control
structure (in particular, his or her reference levels) determines his or her
behavior (perhaps in a probabilistic way; whether there is strict or
"absolute" determinism is a side issue). And his or her reference levels,
together with the environmental disturbances existing at the time, determine
his or her behavior/actions. Others cannot "reach in" to alter those reference
signals. One's control structure is subject to reorganization (which is, by
hypothesis, stochastic).

From the above, which I take to be unheretical, I derive the following.

1. It appears that each individual has no "free will" from moment-to-moment,
since all he or she can do is allow the (possibly probabilistic) dynamics of
his or her control structure and disturbances to play out as behavior/actions.
Nevertheless, there is one sense in which individuals are "responsible" for
their acts: after all, THEIR OWN control structures (conjoined with
disturbances) result in their own behaviors/actions.

2. It appears that whether or not an individual's control structure begins to
reorganize at any time is determined (same probability caveat) conjointly by
the current structure of his or her control structure and current
disturbances. And when a reorganization episode ends is determined (same
probability caveats) by the (altered) control structure and the disturbances.
(Reorganization stops when, in some sense, a "solution" has been found to a
"problem" faced unsuccessfully by the previously existing control structure,
which is what started the reorganization episode in the first place.)

3. From 1 and 2, I conclude that an individual's current behavior/actions are
determined (same probability caveat) by the individual's history, including
events BOTH within and outside the individual.

It will not do to emphasize that "nobody else can make you do what you don't
want to do" (which, unpacked, means "nobody else can alter your current
reference levels to make them conform to his or her desires") -- after all,
you yourself cannot alter your current reference signals, either -- and yet
neglect to mention that BOTH you AND others (as providers of environmental
disturbances) can play roles in determining (same probability caveats) your
FUTURE control structure.

As far as PCT has something to say about it, it seems that we are neither
pawns of our environments nor masters of our destinies, yet in the present
moment, we are "slaves" of our current control structures conjoined with
current environmental disturbances.


P.S. Gary Cziko has suggested that the next CLOSED LOOP be devoted (at least
in part) to statistics and PCT. Fine by me... any other suggestions?