Cooperation and Competition

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.0505.1111 EDT)]

Mike Acree (2000.0510.0953 PDT)--
>

>But none of this constitutes
>evidence that cooperation is _winning out over_ competition, which is quite
>a different claim.

Hm. How did we come to pit cooperation against competition? Are they in
competition with each other?

The inference that they are in competition (or perhaps meta-competition?)
is of course specious. "Cooperation" and "Competition" are not entities
capable of either cooperating or competing with one another.

I agree with your statement here. What I think the original author meant
was the following:

Some entities with differing capabilities and resources find it in their
best interests, through division of labor to "cooperate". Both entities
are left in a superior position due to cooperation than working
independently or in direct conflict.

So suppose you have "man" who is capable of both types of behavior. We
can claim that groups of men engaging in "cooperative" behavior will on
average prosper more than groups of men who operate in "conflict". (It is
probably more accurate to claim only that any that the members of any
particular group of men will prosper more under cooperation than these
same members would under a situation of conflict. Ludwig von Mises would
agree.)

I think using the word "competition" as a synonym for "conflict" is very
misleading. Competition can occur even in cooperative circumstances, such
as the free market. The competition is among producers to best meet the
needs of consumers. Resources are scare, thus there will be competition
for those resources. However, in a cooperative setting, there is the
possibility of conflict-free exchange of resources to the betterment of
both parties. This is because individuals value the same resources
differently.

> Are we sure the attribution is less specious when we're talking about
control systems? Each is controlling input variables. When control of input
<a> by control system A inteferes with control of input <b> by control
system B, they are in conflict. If they do not resolve the conflict, they
are in competition. If they resolve the conflict so that one is able to
control and the other not, they were in competition, and one of them "won"
(the one that controls successfully). If they resolve the conflict so that
each is able to control "happily" (so to speak), they are in cooperation.
The enormous gray area (showing how much all of this is in the eye of an
external observer) includes all kinds of cases in which one or both finds
other, non-conflicting means of controlling higher-level variables
successfully. If one changes, did one "give up" or "lose"?

In your analysis here, I believe you neglect the main benefit of
cooperation. It isn't just that the two control systems resolve a
conflict, but that in fact that both control systems are able to control
-better- their individual perceptions because of the mechanisms of
cooperation.

The potential benefits of cooperation form the foundation of a rational
basis for rules of morality. The case where an individual or group of
individuals has sufficient power that they can obtain more by force or
conflict than by cooperation is a difficult issue. Perhaps one could
appeal to historical interpretation to demonstrate that even where one is
apparently in this case, the aggressor is still worse off in the long run,
but I don't have much hope for that.

Steve Jilcott

···

At 09:56 AM 05/01/2000 -0700, Michael Acree UCSF wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2000.05.07.0910)]

Steven Jilcott wrote:

I think using the word "competition" as a synonym for
"conflict" is very misleading.

How is that? When two control systems are in conflict, they
are competing with each other. Both are trying to get the same
perceptual variable into very different states. Two businesses
are in competition (conflict) when both want to sell their
product to (and collect money from) the same group of
individuals (the same market). What else would you call this?

Competition can occur even in cooperative circumstances,
such as the free market.

But it's still competition (conflict), isn't it? Football
is played in basically "cooperative circumstances"; everyone
agrees to play by the rules and whatnot. But the game is
still a competition (conflict) and at the end there is a
winner and a loser.

You may not always consider competition (as in sports or even
in the market) to be a bad thing; but it always is what it
is: competition (conflict). Right?

Best

Rick

···

--

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

[From Rick Marken (2000.06.30.0945)]

Martin Taylor (2000.06.30 10:35) re: Bill's proposed
distinction between cooperation and facilitation:

Forcing this "controlled perception" connotation onto
the notion of cooperation is a very odd thing to do

It's not odd at all. It's making a verbal distinction that
corresponds to a fundamental distinction made by PCT. The
distinction is between objective behavior (behavior seen by
an observer) and subjective behavior (the perceptions that
are actually controlled by the actor). This distinction
is explained in my "Dancer and the Dance" paper in
_Psychological Methods_ (December, 1997).

Bill has proposed using the word "facilitation" to refer
to objective behavior that appears to be mutually aiding
(such as the behavior of ants) and the word "cooperation"
to refer to subjective behavior that involves the control
of social perceptions of mutual aiding (which may or may
not by what ants are doing; you have to do _the test_ to
find out).

This distinction has nothing to do with whether or not
cooperation (or facilitation) is done consciously, by the
way. Consciousness is an orthogonal issue. The question is
whether the facilitation we see is intentional (involving
the control of social perceptions of mutual aiding by the
parties who are doing the facilitation), in which case it
would be called "cooperation", or unintentional (being a side
effect of control of perceptions that have nothing to do
with mutual aiding), in which case it would remain
"facilitation". Whether its facilitation or cooperation,
it could be happening consciously or unconsciously at any
particular time.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
MindReadings.com mailto: marken@mindreadings.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2000.07.01 10:46] CANADA DAY

[From Rick Marken (2000.06.30.0945)]

Martin Taylor (2000.06.30 10:35) re: Bill's proposed
distinction between cooperation and facilitation:

> Forcing this "controlled perception" connotation onto
> the notion of cooperation is a very odd thing to do

It's not odd at all. It's making a verbal distinction that
corresponds to a fundamental distinction made by PCT. The
distinction is between objective behavior (behavior seen by
an observer) and subjective behavior (the perceptions that
are actually controlled by the actor).

I said I was happy to go along with the change of wording, didn't I,
since there seems to be a widely held understanding that
"cooperation" implies that a cooperator controls a perception of
"cooperating." To me it still seems odd to force this connotation
onto the word. To me, but obviously not to several people, an
observer may see obvious cooperation among bees or ants, and could
then separately test for whether the bee or ant is actually
controlling a perception of cooperation.

It's the same as seeing someone knock a glass off a table. I think it
would be equally odd to insist that saying "the person knocked the
glass off the table" is wrong unless the sayer could show that the
person was controlling for a perception of the glass being knocked
off the table.

This distinction has nothing to do with whether or not
cooperation (or facilitation) is done consciously, by the
way. Consciousness is an orthogonal issue.

Agreed. I shouldn't have mentioned it, except that the notion of
_conscious_ cooperation seemed to be explicit in many of the comments
on the matter during my absence.

The question is
whether the facilitation we see is intentional (involving
the control of social perceptions of mutual aiding by the
parties who are doing the facilitation), in which case it
would be called "cooperation", or unintentional (being a side
effect of control of perceptions that have nothing to do
with mutual aiding), in which case it would remain
"facilitation". Whether its facilitation or cooperation,
it could be happening consciously or unconsciously at any
particular time.

Quite so. And if using "facilitation" leads to better communication
than using "cooperation" would do, then be all means I'll use
"facilitation" (but I'm unlikely to go through my Web site to change
it there; I've lost the electronic originals of most of the images).

Do you have a word to replace "competition" for the opposite
pole--other than the unsuitable "conflict," of course?

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2000.07.01.2145)]

Martin Taylor (2000.07.01 10:46)

It's the same as seeing someone knock a glass off a table.
I think it would be equally odd to insist that saying "the
person knocked the glass off the table" is wrong unless the
sayer could show that the person was controlling for a
perception of the glass being knocked off the table.

That's not quite the point. Bill wasn't saying that anyone
is wrong to call the appearance of cooperation "cooperation".
I believe Bill suggested using two words ("facilitation" and
"cooperation") to distinguish what is _observed_ from what is
_controlled_.

In the case of seeing someone knock a glass off a table,
the same kind of verbal distinction would be useful. We might
call the observed behavior "a person knocked the glass off the
table". Like "facilitation", this phrase could be used as a
reference only to the objective situation; it wouldn't tell us
whether or not the person was controlling for a perception of
the glass being knocked off the table. If the knocked glass was a
controlled perception, we might say that "the person _intentionally_
knocked the glass off the table". This is like calling facilitation
"cooperation" when we know (from testing) that a person is
controlling for cooperative perceptions.

The particular verbalizations don't matter, of course. I think
the important point Bill made was that there _is_ a distinction
to be made between what is seen (objective behavior) and what
is controlled (subjective behavior). Conventional psychology
doesn't make this distinction. So a conventional psychologist who
_sees_ a glass knocked off a table or bees acting cooperatively
(both as objective behaviors) would concludes that that is what
is happening; knocking and cooperating. Bill's suggested verbal
distinction points to the fact that what you see is not necessarily
what is happening. Just because you see what you would call
"cooperation" does not mean that the individuals involved are
controlling for cooperative social perceptions, for example.

The verbal distinction Bill suggested is really one between
intentional and accidental behavior. It's a distinction that
PCT is trying to encourage all psychologists to make -- not just
verbally (though that's an important first step) but also
experimentally, using the test for the controlled variable. It's
a verbal distinction that involves far more than a verbal
distinction.It's a distinction betwen what is done and what
is done on purpose.

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2000.07.02 12.32]

[From Rick Marken (2000.07.01.2145)]

Martin Taylor (2000.07.01 10:46)

> It's the same as seeing someone knock a glass off a table.
> I think it would be equally odd to insist that saying "the
> person knocked the glass off the table" is wrong unless the
> sayer could show that the person was controlling for a
> perception of the glass being knocked off the table.

That's not quite the point. Bill wasn't saying that anyone
is wrong to call the appearance of cooperation "cooperation".
I believe Bill suggested using two words ("facilitation" and
"cooperation") to distinguish what is _observed_ from what is
_controlled_.

I guess that's preaching to the converted, on CSGnet. I didn't get
that as the main emphasis of Bill's message, but he can speak for
himself. To me it seems natural to contrast "intended cooperation"
from "unintended" or "accidental" cooperation, just as it seems be
natural to contrast an accident in which the glass is knocked off the
table from an act intended to knock it off.

Anyway, "facilitation" it is, as far as I am concerned, just to ease
communication. "Facilitation" occurs when the effects of A's actions
(intended or side-) make it easier for B to control.

I'm still looking for a word to replace "competition" for the case
when the effects (intended or side-) of A's actions make it harder
for B to control, noting that "conflict" describes only one of four
or five different kinds of interaction in which this may happen.

Martin

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0702.1830)]

[From Rick Marken (2000.07.02.1440)]

Any word will do. Again, the important point is to distinguish
intended from unintended competition. The competition we see
in sports is usualy intended; the competition we see in, say, marriages,
is usually not; same objective (observed) behavior
(competition), different subjective behavior (controlled
perceptions).

I suspect that competition is less of a problem than conflict in marriages.
Also, I don't know about your marriage, but mine does not resemble a
sporting contest.

BG

"Either the wallpaper goes, or I do."
--Oscar Wilde, last words

[From Rick Marken (2000.07.02.1440)]

Me:

I believe Bill suggested using two words ("facilitation" and
"cooperation") to distinguish what is _observed_ from what is
_controlled_.

Martin Taylor (2000.07.02 12.32) --

To me it seems natural to contrast "intended cooperation"
from "unintended" or "accidental" cooperation

I'm sure that's true. You just forgot to do that in your
comments on cooperation.

I'm still looking for a word to replace "competition" for the
case when the effects (intended or side-) of A's actions make
it harder for B to control

Any word will do. Again, the important point is to distinguish
intended from unintended competition. The competition we see
in sports is usualy intended; the competition we see in, say, marriages,
is usually not; same objective (observed) behavior
(competition), different subjective behavior (controlled
perceptions).

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2000.07.02.1630)]

Me:

The competition we see in sports is usualy intended; the
competition we see in, say, marriages, is usually not

Bruce Gregory (2000.0702.1830)

I suspect that competition is less of a problem than conflict
in marriages.

Yes. As I said, I assume that intended competition (which,
I take it, is what you mean by "competition") is rare in
marriage relationships. But conflict (which I take to
refer to the occasionally observed spats and disagreements)
certainly does happen and it can be a problem.

Also, I don't know about your marriage, but mine does not
resemble a sporting contest.

Well, after 30 years we're still sportin' a bit, but it's
usually no contest.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[From Bill Powers (2000.07.02.20953 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2000.07.02 12.32--

I guess that's preaching to the converted, on CSGnet. I didn't get
that as the main emphasis of Bill's message, but he can speak for
himself. To me it seems natural to contrast "intended cooperation"
from "unintended" or "accidental" cooperation, just as it seems be
natural to contrast an accident in which the glass is knocked off the
table from an act intended to knock it off.

Naturalness doesn't get us very far unless exactly the same things seem
natural to all of us -- which hardly ever happens.

As I learned to use the word, and as others used it toward me, cooperation
is a voluntary act; "accidental cooperation" would be an oxymoron to me. To
me, this word implies literally "operating together" toward some agreed
end. Since doing this generally requires all parties to understand what the
end is, and also requires discussion and sharing-out of subtasks, the
overall implication, again to me if to nobody else, is that the state of
being in cooperation with others is a perception of a social relationship,
and requires a specific directed effort to achieve it. It would not often
happen by accident.

Anyway, "facilitation" it is, as far as I am concerned, just to ease
communication. "Facilitation" occurs when the effects of A's actions
(intended or side-) make it easier for B to control.

Right, and there are so many ways to do this that the category is really
pretty arbitrary (A gives B money; A educates B; A exerts an effort
parallel to B's; A moves the fulcrum under the lever to increase B's
mechanical advantage; A's efforts to control some other variable happen to
leave unlocked a door that B needs to go through ... the list seems
endless, with no common thread except the facilitation itself). However,
since you find "facilitation" to be a usable term, I could suggest
"interference" for an equally broad antonym referring to an objective
relationship (by which I mean a relationship that can be observed whether
intended by someone or not). "Interference" occurs when the effects of A's
actions (whether intended to have this effect or not) make it, by any means
whatsoever, more difficult for B to control.

The main thing I'm interested in here is to distinguish intentional from
unintentional consequences. I think that intentional consequences are far
more likely to occur than unintentional ones. If people intend to
cooperate, cooperation is more likely than if they don't know how to
control for cooperation, or control for the opposite. They can still
accidentally facilitate each others' control processes (or do it one-way),
but the chances of repeating the facilitation are then very low. I may
facilitate your getting into your house by forgetting to turn off my car's
headlights several hours earlier, but I'm not likely to do that again,
particularly not just when you need to get into your house again and drop
your keys.

Best,

Bill P.