PCT solves the Incommensurability Problem

In my quest for a comprehensive theory of behavior that actually competes
with PCT, I ran across a hint of what such a theory must do and what PCT
actually does, from the point of view of academic psychology.

PCT provides a solution to the "incommensurability problem ... a specific
case of the more general problem of the individuation of action."

I stumbled across this on The Albert P. Weiss Memorial WebPage:
http://www.unc.edu/~skemp/Science/smkSciWeiss.html,

which begins: 'This page is dedicated to the memory of Albert Paul Weiss
(1879-1931), an early behaviorist and the most important early voice
expressing concern about the need to distinguish between bodily movements
and accomplishments, presenting what we here call "the incommensurability
problem."'

Apparently Weiss recognized the need for a hierarchy, but he had no clue as
to a hierarchy of _what_.

Somebody give it a look, and tell me what you think.

Regards,
Ted

P.S. I'm still looking for a comprehensive theory of behavior that actually
competes with PCT.

[From Fred Nickols (2009.05.31.1548 PDT)]

Ted:

Many thanks for sending this along. I'm not sure I grasp all the significance of the "incommensurability" problem but I did some additional digging and I have a sense of how it's important to me.

First off, I intend to check out Weiss. His distinction between behavior and accomplishment is one made by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book, The Concept of Mind. Others have since touched on that same distinction. Perhaps Weiss was the first to draw that distinction.

As for the incommensurability problem itself, it strikes me as relevant to the kind of work I do, which entails examining "performance" (i.e., actions and their accompanying effects) at various levels in the workplace (i.e., organizational, operational (process), and individual.

Given that incommensurable means "no common measure" I think that raises some questions about how we can identify and relate performance at various levels within organizations (and speak to the performance of the organization itself for that matter).

Sorry, but I don't think I can shed any light on how all this ties to PCT but I'll wagers others can and I look forward to reading what they have to say.

···

--
Regards,

Fred Nickols
Managing Partner
Distance Consulting, LLC
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

"Assistance at A Distance"
  
-------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Ted Cloak <tcloak@UNM.EDU>

In my quest for a comprehensive theory of behavior that actually competes
with PCT, I ran across a hint of what such a theory must do and what PCT
actually does, from the point of view of academic psychology.

PCT provides a solution to the "incommensurability problem ... a specific
case of the more general problem of the individuation of action."

I stumbled across this on The Albert P. Weiss Memorial WebPage:
http://www.unc.edu/~skemp/Science/smkSciWeiss.html,

which begins: 'This page is dedicated to the memory of Albert Paul Weiss
(1879-1931), an early behaviorist and the most important early voice
expressing concern about the need to distinguish between bodily movements
and accomplishments, presenting what we here call "the incommensurability
problem."'

Apparently Weiss recognized the need for a hierarchy, but he had no clue as
to a hierarchy of _what_.

Somebody give it a look, and tell me what you think.

Regards,
Ted

P.S. I'm still looking for a comprehensive theory of behavior that actually
competes with PCT.

[From Bill Powers (2009.06.01.1002 MDT)]

Fred Nickols (2009.05.31.1548 PDT) --

[FN replying to] Ted [Cloak]:

Many thanks for sending this along. I'm not sure I grasp all the significance of the "incommensurability" problem but I did some additional digging and I have a sense of how it's important to me.

First off, I intend to check out Weiss. His distinction between behavior and accomplishment is one made by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book, The Concept of Mind. Others have since touched on that same distinction. Perhaps Weiss was the first to draw that distinction.

As for the incommensurability problem itself, it strikes me as relevant to the kind of work I do, which entails examining "performance" (i.e., actions and their accompanying effects) at various levels in the workplace (i.e., organizational, operational (process), and individual.

Given that incommensurable means "no common measure" I think that raises some questions about how we can identify and relate performance at various levels within organizations (and speak to the performance of the organization itself for that matter).

Sorry, but I don't think I can shed any light on how all this ties to PCT but I'll wagers others can and I look forward to reading what they have to say.

This is actually the heart of PCT: the idea that there is a difference between controlling actions and controlling the results of actions. That "Squaring the circle" demo that we were just discussing is a direct illustration of the difference. Performance is not what you do; it's what results from what you do. It's a good exercise to take some example of a behavior, and look at what you actually do while carrying out this behavior, as opposed to what your actions accomplish. Try this list, filling in the subheads for action and result (I've left space for several lines of answer text:

       Behavior

1. Scratching an itch.

   Action:

   Result:

2. Sharpening a pencil.

   Action:

   Result:

3. Stopping your car.

   Action:

   Result:

4. Signing your name.

   Action:

   Result:

5. Putting on a coat.

   Action:

   Result:

6. Answering a question.

   Action:

   Result:

7. Reading a book.

   Action:

   Result:

8. Whistling "Dixie".

   Action:

   Result:

Remember that the action is simply what an observer could see you doing, or what you could feel yourself doing if you weren't concerned with its results.

Best,

Bill P.