[From Fred Nickols (971008.0223 ET)]
Rick Marken (971006.1440)
Fred Nickols (971006)
If I come to attention and raise my arm in a salute, what is "going
on" is as follows...
I intend to render a salute.
You intend to perceive proprioceptive, visual and tactile perceptual
variables in a state which you call "a salute".
Your statement is much more precise than mine.
My limbs and posture are adjusted until I give the
appearance of saluting (to me and to interested others).
You are not really controlling what the others see; that is not
your intentional "doing"; all you control are the perceptual variables
that constitute "salute" to you. Apparently, when you control these
variables a side effect of doing this is the appearnce (to others)
that you are saluting. If you were not giving this appreance you
would have perceived others mentioning this to you.
Hmm. Why would you label the appearance I present to others as a "side
effect" of what I was doing? If my intent is to present that appearance to
them (as it usually was), then satisfying their criteria for an acceptable
salute seems a main effect, not a side effect. Granted, I can't know if my
appearance of saluting satisfies their requirements for a salute unless they
tell me, but that doesn't make their perceptions of my saluting behavior a
"side effect." To be precise, I didn't say I was controlling what others
see. I said I was giving the appearance of saluting. That appearance is, as
you say, defined by my perceptions, not theirs (although the reference
states for my perceptions are based on what others have at one time said to
me about my saluting behavior and position, especially my company commander
in boot camp). In any event, I think I get your point above about
controlling my perception of my salute, and not controlling their perception
of it, and I agree with you.
Operant conditioning cannot account for novel displays of
Operant conditioning refers to a phenomenon (control of food input) and
a theory (conditioning of S-R associatios through reinforcement). I
think it's safe to say that we have no idea what operant conditioning
theory can account for since they have no model.
What do you mean by "model" when you say "they have no model"?
But if you listen
to the operant conditioners tell it, their theory explain everything
and any implementation of their theory that doesn't explain something
is a straw man;-)
I know some radical behaviorists who fit your description; I know some
others who don't.
Behavior, then, is the means to many ends.
In common use, the term "behavior" refers to _both_ means
(moving an arm) and ends (hitting the ball with the racquet).
Yes, I know. Tom Gilbert, of human performance technology fame, used to use
an example involving the aiming and firing of a rifle, a bullet piercing a
body, and various environmental conditions to draw distinctions among
murder, self-defense, and combat. I suppose that's why the use of
"behavior" leads so readily to so much misunderstanding. That is also why
Gilbert, and others, drew a distinction between "behavior" (moving an arm)
and "accomplishment" (hitting the ball with the racquet). In any case, my
statement that behavior is the means to many ends still stands.
All ends may be defined in terms of controlled perceptions.
Only intentionally produced ends correspond to controlled perceptions.
Okey-dokey. Reworded, the sentence reads, "All intended ends may be defined
in terms of controlled perceptions."
Behavior, therefore, is the control of perception.
Actually, only purposeful (or intentional) behavior is the control
But what about behavior? What about the activity of the organism?
How is it controlled? What controls it?
If by "behavior" you mean intentionally produced ends then it's the
organism's hierarchy of control systems that control these behaviors.
PCT explains how it does it.
I'll pass on the remark above until I can find my copy of B:CP and do as
Bill suggested, reread it and bring my recollections current. Until then,
it strikes me that there's a point in this hierarchy of control systems
where conscious intention ceases playing an active role.
If by "behavior" you mean the means used
to produce intended ends or accidental side effects of the production
of those ends then they are not controlled.
Sorry, but I cannot decode the sentence above; I don't know what it means.
It is not behavior that we seek to control, but, rather, its
effects--those changes in conditions that we attribute to behavior.
What do you mean by "behavior" here? Who is seeking to
By "behavior" I mean the activity of the individual, especially the movement
of limbs and uttering of sounds we ordinarily label "skills" and
"communicating." Job-related or working behaviors are those I had most in
mind. As for who's seeking to control it, I had in mind management.
Control the means, or so we think, and we control the ends. We
infer a cause-effect relationship and through attempts to control
what we believe to be the cause, we try to control the effects.
Are you saying that people who try to control behavior are only
trying to control the means people use to produce intended results?
Not exactly. What I was driving at is that much of management practice
focuses on controlling work behaviors. We try to teach people how to
produce widgets, for example, but all too often focus on what we think
are widget-producing behaviors and fail to teach people how to tell if
they've produced a good widget or not. Consequently, the widgets they
produce are full of flaws.
If so, I can think of many examples where people try to control
which results people intend to produce. For example, a kid who
regularly beats up other kids probably (this can be tested) intends
to produce this result (the beatings). I think teachers and others
try to control, not the means the kid uses to administer the
beatings, but the beatings (ends) themselves; they would like
the kid to intend to do something other than giving beatings.
The beatings might not be the intended result at all, just another
means in a long string of means-ends relationships. I'm familiar
with schoolyard bullies and other brutes. The beatings they administer
serve, or so I think, to maintain their image of themselves as strong,
unquestioned rulers of their domains. Schoolmasters have been known to
let these beasts run more or less unfettered, perhaps as a way of
demonstrating that they, the schoolmasters, really rule the shoolyard.
As for testing these propositions, I'd be inclined to pass on that, too,
unless a harmless way of testing them could be devised.
We seek to control ends, not means.
We (as controllers) can _only_ control (perceived) ends.
Hmm. As I look at what I wrote immediately above, I'll retract it. It's
a foolish, empty statement. That said, if ends and means are relative
constructs, then a given phenomenon could be an end from one perspective,
and a means from another. That would suggest that your response is open
to question. It might also imply a need to rethink the concepts of means
To focus on control of means is to lose sight of the ends.
To think that means are controlled is to not understand the nature
See the comments above about the relative nature of means and ends. In
the meantime, my assertion stands. Your comment, however, does give me
a new version of it: "To focus on control of means is to risk losing
control of ends."
I'm not sure I knew what to critique. But there it is.
You done good; thanks...[
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