Behavior vis-a-vis PCT, feedback functions

[From Chris Cherpas (951026.1026 PT)]

[> re: Bill Powers (951026.0530) re: Chris Cherpas (951017.1113 Pacific)]


"Perceptual behavior", to my mind, stretches the meaning of "behavior"
to the point where the term loses its usefulness. If you call
_everything that happens_ "behavior", you lose the ability to
distinguish between sensing and acting.

"Perceptual behavior" is indeed a stretch in the sense of being a
metaphorical extension of a generic concept of behavior. Radical
behaviorists use overt behavior (e.g., the discriminated operant)
as a base for metaphorically extending to less certain realms like
perception. How does PCT distinguish perceiving versus sensing, or for
that matter, sensing versus acting? Is it based on differences
in the nervous system? Is the organism doing anything while sensing?


The main trick in system
analysis is to break the system down into components whose properties
can be distinguished from the properties of other components, but not to
the level where the analysis becomes impossibly complex. It is possible
to go too far in the other direction, where you lose the distinctions
between the components; that makes a system model impossible, too.

I agree. Actually, Skinner's 1935 article, "The Generic Nature of Stimulus
and Response" makes a similar point with respect to how to classify
or group "responses" and "stimuli" so as to respect the "natural
lines of fracture." However, he doesn't address the issue of being
able to tell the stimulus *from* the response. Premack (1971), and, in a way,
people like Donohoe, have take the behavior-as-everthing perspective
perhaps as far as is useful.

[On reinforcement feedback functions...]


I have never
seen a second equation used, representing the connection from
reinforcment to behavior (via the organism) and solved simultaneously
with the equations representing the schedule effects.

It is primarily the folks in behaviorial economics, like Howard Rachlin,
that are/were big on explaining schedule performance in terms of feedback
functions. Baum's (1973) "The correlation-based law of effect" in JEAB
is probably a starting place for the study of feedback functions within
the behavior analytic community (although you could go back to Sidman
avoidance schedules). The book, "Quantitative Analyses of Behavior:
Matching and Maximizing Accounts" (Volume II of the series), edited by
Commons, Herrnstein, and Rachlin (1987) has some good examples of
analysis-via-feedback functions. The conference on which this book
is based seemed to have an interesting mix of people doing optimal foraging,
economic maximization, and reinforcement theorizing.

...analyses... I have seen are simply manipulations of the equations
describing the external world. I have never seen anyone acknowlege that
you can't uniquely solve a system of equations in which the number of
equations is less than the number of variables.

I never thought about it that way. In any case, I've ordered B:CP and
the Intro Psych book, so hopefully I'll understand PCT a whole lot more
very soon. Thanks for entertaining my questions and comments at this point.