BCT foot prints in the snow

from John A.

"T. Harms" wrote:

[from Tracy Harms (990222.0800)]

John Appel (Sun, 21 Feb 1999 15:22:52 -0500)

>Defence: BCT and PCT may differ fundamentally abouit causation. BCT is
>based on the idea that to do something means: to cause an effect on the
>envirronment, partcularly on other people in the person's environment.
>It is difficult to conceive of a person, or a world in which nothing
>causes anything

Surely. But even if that is entirely agreeable, it is not *explanatory*.
If to do something is to cause an effect on the environment, then consider
the case of footprints. When a person walks in snow or mud, one effect
they cause on their environment is the creation of footprints. BCT looks
impotent when it comes to evaluating whether anything about these
footprints is of importance to the person. PCT deals with those situations
quite handily. Most often footprints are unintentional, unavoidable
side-effects of controlling perceptions such as "buy a quart of milk" or
"take a walk and enjoy the sunshine." But they *can* be a more intimate
part of perceptual control: "Make a fun spiral around this snow-angel."
It turns upon the intent of the actor, and this only sorts out neatly if we
consider perceptions as the items of accomplishment.

Defense: You raise an important point here. I'll try to answer it. The key, I
believe, is "intent." Sanity is defined as the ability to anticipate and
evaluate the effect of an action. There must be intent to cause the effect,
choice and decision to act. So, for example, there must be intent to leave a
foot print on the snow. If the foot happens to fall on someone's toe, the
resulting cry of pain may be the stepper's intent, or not.
    Another key point is that there is a big difference between affecting the
non human and the human environment. The non human environment cannot do
anything in response; the human can and usually does, "Hey! look out where
you're going." The foot print in the snow can only be therein the snow.

>But both BCT and
>PCT are theories, not facts. Bye the way, what is the criterion for
>proof of PCT?
>
>Yours
>
>John A.
>
>John W Appel , M.D.
>University of Pennsylvania. E-mail jappel21@op.net

Bruce Gregory answered this directly and politely. I'm going to risk being
less polite in order to point out that when this question is posed it
indicates a highly unsatisfactory lack of philosophical refinement.
Whenever a man with scientific training and an active academic career
reveals so coarse a conceptualization of theory, fact, and proof, I wonder
whether there are incentives for my son to attend a university. I'm not
saying that you are unique in this, John; similar views are voiced too
frequently by various academics of similar station. Then again, frequency
will not remedy the shortcoming. Even when people hold epistemological
views which I reject, I at least expect them to be aware of the way that
comments such as yours tend to divert conversation away from the topic at
hand. Sometimes discussing differences in such high-level concepts are
crucial to clarifying disputes which were found in another topic, but in
this case it is nothing but an ill-considered distraction.

Tracy Harms
Bend, Oregon

I'm not I sure understand the above. Turning to another topic, some time ago
you said no one is ever justified in controlling another individual against
his will. You may remember I was defending the right of a doctor to hold down
a screaming infant when trying to examine the infant's ear. Since then I've
recalled an even more familiar example of controlling --A mother grabbing her
two year old which is toddling out on the street against oncoming traffic. The
most difficult and constant task of a mother is to control her child. She must
balance between over control and under control; the former can extinguish the
child's initiative, the latter "spoils" the child, leaving it unable to
control itself.

Yours

John A
Associate Professor of Psychiatry,
Univ.of Pennsylvania. School of Medicine
Senior Attending Psychiatrist, Pennsylvania Hospital

jappel212.vcf (62 Bytes)

[From Rick Marken (990223.1530)]

Tracy Harms (990222.0800)

BCT looks impotent when it comes to evaluating whether anything
about these footprints is of importance to the person. PCT
deals with those situations quite handily. Most often footprints
are unintentional, unavoidable side-effects of controlling
perceptions such as "buy a quart of milk" or "take a walk and
enjoy the sunshine." But they *can* be a more intimate part of
perceptual control: "Make a fun spiral around this snow-angel."
It turns upon the intent of the actor, and this only sorts out
neatly if we consider perceptions as the items of accomplishment.

John Appel (990223) --

The key, I believe, is "intent."Sanity is defined as the ability
to anticipate and evaluate the effect of an action. There must
be intent to cause the effect, choice and decision to act.

I think Tracy's point was that BCT seems to provide no way
for an _observer_ to determine whether a particular effect of
a person's actions (such as footprints) is intended or not. PCT
does provide a way for an observer to determine whether a
particular effect is intended or not. It's called "The Test for
the Controlled Variable". A demonstration of this PCT approach to
"reading intentions" can be found at:

http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/ControlDemo/ThreeTrack.html

The movements of all three squares in this demo are an effect
of your mouse movements (the cause). It's impossible for an
observer to tell, just by looking at the movement of the
squares, which square (if any) is being moved _intentionally_.
The situation is exactly like the one Tracy describes with the
footprints; it's impossible to tell, just by looking at the pattern
of footprints (or the pattern of square movements) whether these
effects were produce intentionally (i.e. on purpose) or not (i.e.
by accident). The computer is able to tell which square is being
moved intentionally because it knows how to do the Test for
the Controlled Variable.

Best

Rick

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Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
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