CSGNET Digest - 19 Feb 1999 to 22 Feb 1999

[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.

But both BCT and
PCT are theories, not facts. Bye the way, what is the criterion for
proof of PCT?


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