[Martin Taylor 2008.10.18.23.09]
[From Bill Powers (2008.10.18.1444 MDT)]
Martin Taylor 2008.10.18.12.59] --
But a side-issue is the fact that it is impossible for an observer to see what any control system in this set of N systems is doing.
That word "impossible" is the point I think needs to be established. That's what I was trying to get at.
Since the input weights are selected at random, the chances of any observer perceiving through the same weights are approximately zero.
True in the simulation case. Not true when the experimental subject and the observer have developed through the same (approximately) evolutionary reorganization, and have personally reorganized in a similar cultural environment, and when the experimenter and subject both believe the subject is trying to do what the experimenter asks.
What you say is true because of all those "if"s. I'd grant you your conclusion provisionally, but the claim isn't settled until you've gone back and cleaned up all those dangling assumptions. I don't know how similar one person's evolutionary history is to that of another, or how similar the reorganizations of two people in the same culture are (say, Barack Obama and John McCain), or whether both experimenter and subject agree on what the conditions of the situation are.
No, you don't KNOW. And that's been my point all along.
I just object to what ought to be probabilistic statements being asserted as certainties or impossibilities. You take me to task for not asserting certainties and impossibilities, and for making probabilistic statements. I think that without logical proof based on certainty of starting point, probabilistic statements are all you can make.
If you had said something like "It would be very unlikely that an observer would be able to determine all the perceptual input functions by observing the outputs and environmental variables when the references are randomly chosen" then I wouldn't have put my oar in. But you said "It occurs to me that this demonstration may be the final disproof of the principle of behaviorism, because the regularities in these collections of control systems are not detectable through observing their behavior -- their outputs." I thought that to be stronger than the evidence warrants, for reasons I stated.
Of course the experimenter or observer does not KNOW what is going on in the real-real world. Nor, assuming the real world is more or less as we perceive it, can the observer KNOW that someone pushing the dorrbell button intends the doorbell to ring, or for someone to open the door. It's just a pretty good bet, based, as I said, on evolutionary and cultural similarity between observer and observed.
As for the similarity of one person's evolutionary history to another's, we probably have 4.5 billion years of common ancestry, and no more than one or two hundred thousand years of different ancestry, no matter where in the world we live. That doesn't leave a lot of room for evoutionary variation, compared to the overall similarity. Personal reorganization is likely to have a lot less in common within that commonality of evolutionary similarity, but if two people grow up in the same cultural milieu, they are quite likely to have a lot in common, at least in respect of control of social variables, such as language and conventions of interaction.
In that case, if the subject is seen by the observer to be "pressing that particular button", there's a high probability that the subject actually has an intention to press that particular button. It is, however, true, that the observer cannot determine how the different muscle twitches of the the subject are affecting the different tactile and optical nerve impulses at the subject's input.
Well, you'rt seeing the resulgt of my pressingf pargifcutlar buttoons. What was muy intention?
I don't KNOW, but I'd make a guess that it was to suggest to me that you wished to show that if I had been observing you I would have thought you were typing unusually badly for some purpose. I would further have assumed the purpose was to make some point in the argument. What that point might have been, I cannot guess. Nor could I guess which muscles you were using in what sequence, which was the real point of the bit you quoted.
On the other hand, if I had observed you downing half a bottle of whiskey before typing that line, I would probably assume a different intention, and would probably also assume that your control systems had become a little out of whack. Again, that kind of inference depends on a certain degree of commonality, or at least on having observed or heard of the effects of overconsumption of alcohol.
Even when the subject and observer don't have a common evolutionary background (such as a human and a pigeon), nevertheless it is not unreasonable to assert that if the pigeon pecks at a particular button consistently when a light flashes red but not when the light flashes green, the pigeon not only can tell the difference, but is induced to peck at that button (response) because the light flashed red (stimulus).
"Peck", "button", "red", "green", "flash", "induce", and "because" are human perceptions. It is quite unreasonable to assume that such things exist in the perceptions of a pigeon. Convenient, yes. Reasonable, no.
It is equally unreasonable to assume that the same perceptions exist in the perceptions of another human. Not "unreasonable" but "equally unreasonable", which to me means "usefully reasonable". Nevertheless, the assertion "that if the pigeon pecks at a particular button consistently when a light flashes red but not when the light flashes green, the pigeon not only can tell the difference, but is induced to peck at that button (response) because the light flashed red (stimulus)" is eminently reasonable, whatever the qualia might be of the pigeon's perception. We are talking about the observer's perception and what the observer says about it, not about what the pigeon's consciousness contains.
I'm arguing that "can't be valid" does not follow from this experiment, because for the most part observers are likely to be accurate in assuming that if they see someone performing an action that they would perform for the inferred purpose, then the person has that purpose. If I see someone ringing a doorbell, I am likely to be correct in assuming that they want someone to open the door, even if I have no idea why they were pressing the bell-push with their left big toe. Someone brought up in central New Guinea would not be able to make that jump, which is, after all, not logical, but only probabilistic and based on the common results of reorganization in the bell-ringer and me.
What is "likely" is not an argument, but a statement of faith.
Oh, and the assertion of "can't be valid" is not? Are you asserting that I am indeed NOT likely to be correct if I assume that someone I see ringing a doorbell is doing so because he wants someone to open the door? It's a probabilistic statement, not a statement of faith. Statements of what is "likely" are hardly ever statements of faith, whereas assertions of "what must be" are often statements of faith.
I'd rather find some other basis for exploring the nature of perception, control, and reality. I'm waiting for the compelling argument, the argument I can't resist, that I can see no way out of. We can't find arguments like that by picking premises and scenarios that lead to the conclusions we want, even though this is a favorite mode of argument among philosophers.
Me, too. All I'm saying is that you haven't found it in this simple simulation. So I don't know why you seem to be the pot calling my kettle black. You can believe all you want in your own logic that says you have found the perfect argument, but that neither makes it so, nor makes it convincing to others. You often say that you most distrust your own logic when it leads to a conclusion you want to be true. But not this time, apparently.
My point is that your random set of reference values is not uncorrelated with the set of reference values that a behaviourist experimenter might infer, because of the common evolutionary and cultural reorganization they both share.
"Not uncorrelated with" is to me the same as saying "for all practical purposes, irrelevant to." If the correlation of A with B is 0.001, you can say that A is not uncorrelated with B. Heck, you can say that, even if the correlation turns out to be zero. Zero is a point on the scale of correlations.
I do wish you wouldn't resort so readily to sophistry. You actually aren't saying anything relevant to the argument. You know very well that the implication from my preceding argument is that the correlation may well be far from irrelevant, even though the conclusion drawn by the experimenter may often be wrong.
All you're saying is that the experimenter will be able to determine some reference values in the subject because the experimenter will be able to determine some reference values in the subject. Saying the same thing twice doesn't make it true.
Nor does saying something is impossible make it so. Even if you buttress the argument by pointing out that I do not say things are impossible that you would like to be so. In any case, that's far from what I said. The argument is that IF (but not "only if") the experimenter has a similar perceptual organization to the subject, then the experimenter might well be able to discern regularity in a situation analogous to your simulation.
How do you know they share evolutionary and cultural reorganizations? Because if they didn't, it wouldn't be true that the eperimenter is inferring correctly, and since he is inferring correctly they must share common cultural and evolutionary reorganizations. What other basis can you have for assuming that reorganizations can be shared at all?
That people (and other animals) appear able to communicate is one. I expect that when you reflect a little you will be able to think of many, many, others.
For the argument to succeed, the experimenter doesn't have to infer correctly. All that matters is that the inferences succeed in conforming to observations sufficiently often to get the kind of noisy data that satisfies behaviourist experimenters. In other words, the pattern of outputs at a low level results in something the experimenter can call a "button press" sufficiently often when the pattern of inputs results in something the experimenter calls a "red light".
PS. I've been breaking my self-imposed vow of silence because CSGnet interests me more than what I ought to be doing. In this case, I thought I could make a quick and simple interjection, and never considered the probability of getting into a long discussion.
If you choose to believe that your simulation makes an irrefutable argument, make the argument in a place where it might do some good. Maybe I'm wrong, and you do have an irrefutable argument. I'm not convinced, but then it isn't me that has to be convinced of the correctness of PCT and the wrongness of S-R type behaviourism. So I'm now going to try to avoid temptation and be quiet again. I have only 6 days to complete the work before I go to present it.