More Simon says

[From Bruce Abbott (960914.1200 EST]

Bruce Gregory (960914.0845 EDT) --

Bruce, you need to fix your margins; your lines are wrapping and this makes
your posts difficult to read.

Bruce Abbott (960913.2020 EST)]

Now, you say that it doesn't appear that I agree with Rick about
fundamentals "much of the time." I don't see where I have disagreed about
_fundamentals_; could you provide an example or two in which what I have
said contradicts a fundamental PCT principle?

See response below.

Bruce Abbott (960913,2125 EST)]

Quoting (apparently with approval) Simon:

The outer environment determines the conditions for goal attainment. If
the inner environment is properly designed, it will be adapted to the outer
environment, so that its behavior will be determined in large part by the
behavior of the latter . . .. To predict how it will behave, we need only
ask "How would a rationally designed system behave under these
circumstances? The behavior takes on the shape of the task environment.

"The outer environment determines the conditions for goal attainment." I
would have thought that the outer envirnoment plays a role in goal
attainment, but I am not sure what Simon means by "the conditions".
Certainly some of these conditions are interior to the organism. Since
the organism is living in the environment, the latter places constraints
on the former, but I would not think to the extent that it "determines"
the organism.

Perhaps an example would clarify. If you want to fly, the outer environment
(viscosity of the air, wind currents, gravity, laws of physics) determine
what solutions to that problem will work. Knowing what the purpose is and
the environmental conditions in which that purpose must be pursued, we can
predict how the system will behave simply by asking how a rationally
designed system would behave, without knowing anything in particular about
the system's inner structure. We know what the system must do.

" it behavior will be determined in large part by the behavior of
the latter..." I would think that its behavior is determined to the largest
part by its efforts to control its perceptions.

For a control system, its behavior _is_ its efforts to control its
perceptions. Behaviors (actions) occur only in response to disturbances in
the environment. Those actions largely mirror the disturbances (behavior of
the environment) and the relationship between action and effect represented
by the environmental feedback function.

"How would a rationally designed system behave under these circumstances?"
Again, I am not sure what a "rationally designed system" does. An animal
is presumably adapted to its environment by a process that has little, if
anything to do with rational design.

A "rationally designed system" serves the purpose for which it was designed.
One rather obvious use of the bird's wing is to create controllable lift and
thrust for the purpose (should the bird elect) of flying. Whether the wing
acquired those properties that adapt it to this purpose through the process
of design or through the process of evolution is not relevant, since in
either case one ends up with properties that are adapted to the designer's
(or organism's) purposes.

"The behavior takes on the shape of the task environment." This must be a
metaphor, since the behavior is goal-oriented and only is shaped by the
environment to the extent that the latter disturbs its efforts to control.

The quoted sentence just restates the initial proposal after the
illustrative support for it was given; we've already dealt with it above.

I believe I've shown that none of this contradicts any PCT fundamentals. Do
you agree? Morover, Simon's analysis shows how we can evaluate which of
several alternative PCT models of the "inner system" is most likely to
represent the real system.