[From Rick Marken (950629.2150)]
Bruce Abbott (950629.2200 EST) in response to Dag Forssell (950629 1500)
I've complained about being asked to play the role of resident
reinforcement theorist (computing epicycles and such) but then I'm
asked to develop reinforcement models and defend them. I'm in a
no-win situation: if I do then I'm covertly trying to convince
everyone that reinforcement theory is correct and if I refuse then I'm
admitting that the theory can't handle data which I firmly believe it
I think it's your firm belief that reinforcement _can_ handle the data
that's creating the problem for you (and us). As I pointed out earlier
this week, the reinforcement model cannot handle the data on control
with random consequences (the E. coli data). I have seen no evidence
that it can handle the ratio data. If you were less firmly committed to
the belief that reinforcement theory can handle the data, you might be
able to come up with other ideas for experiments that would distinguish
the reinforcement from the control model of behavior.
it is my view that it is possible to build strong bridges between the
PCT and EAB camps,
This is a noble, but puzzling, goal. If you really believe that
reinforcement theory is the Ptolomeic model of behavior and PCT the
Copernican one then what bridge can there be between them? Copernicus
(like PCT) was right and Ptolomy (like reinforcent theory) was wrong.
Where is the bridge? Didn't Gaileo have some problems building "bridges"
to the Ptolomeic church? If PCT is right then reinforcement theory is
wrong, and vise versa. Where is the bridge?
I believe that in many cases the two theories are simply using a
different vocabulary to talk about a common set of phenomena... The
analyses are different, and because of this the constructs do not
translate directly one into the other, but at least there are points of
I don't get your point here. Are you saying that PCT and reinforcement
theory are similar in some way? Sure there are "points of contact"
between them. Both are theories of the same phenomenon: the relationship
between actions and their consequences Reinforcement theory says that
actions are selected and controlled (maintained) by their consequences;
control theory says that consequences are selected and controlled
(maintained) by the actions of the organism. I can't imagine two more
opposite models of behavior. Where's the bridge?