Reply to Gavan & Hal

[From Rick Marken (931115.1500)]

cc to Gavan Lintern

Gavan Lintern (931115) --

I think it fair to say that almost everyone in any area of behavioral
science would agree that behavior is based on control of something.

I would say just the opposite -- I think it is fair to say that almost
everyone in any area of behavioral science would agree that behavior
is based on control BY something -- stimuli, perception,reinforcement,
information, evolution, brain mechanisms, affordances, etc. The difference
between control OF something and control BY something is where PCT and
conventional psychologies diverge.

Psychologists talk alot about "control" alright, but what they usually
mean by the term is "cause" or "influence" (unless they are willing
to attribute purposefulness to the inanimate world). But even when
they use "control" properly -- to mean the production of consistent
results in an inconsistent environment -- they are talking about
control BY something other than BY the behaving system itself: responses
are controlled BY the brain, speech is controlled BY Broca's area, etc.
PCT is about control OF something (perception) BY the behaving system.
I have never seen ANY psychological theory (besides PCT) that explains
control OF somthing BY the behaving system (and where the term "control"
is correctly understood to mean "consistency produced in the context of
inconsistency"). If you can point me to such a theory, I would be most
interested in seeing it.

Hal Pepinsky (931115) --

I must say too that I think we can all afford to be a little more
ambitious than figuring out simple problems of how to perambulate
around the house.


Let's get real. There are flesh-and-blood, tough
problems of conflict and wars over terms of control all around us, and
I'm still looking at how PCT grapples with something that begs to be
done--like giving children enough control to escape ritual abuse.

Well, one thing PCT would say is that you can't give anyone
control -- they've got it whether they want it or not.

Second, PCT would say that "giving kids enough control" will only
intensify the conflict between the kids and those who are trying
to control them (coercively) using abuse.

Third, nothing "begs to be done"; what IS done depends on
what a person wants to perceive (goals) and on the (changing)
circumstances in the world that determine what must be done to
achieve those goals. PCT can't tell people what "must be done"
to stop wars, ritual abuse, and all the other things that most
people find horrible because there is no one action that will
produce an intended result. The results of actions depend on
prevailing circumstances; there is no simple solution to ANY problem
because it is never possible to say "if you do X, Y will result".
It would be nice if one could say "if you do X, there will be no
more child abuse" but that's just not the way the world works --
sorry. Things are a LOT easier in imagination.

Fourth, PCT can tell you that trying to control other people
as part of your efforts to achieve your goals (or to help others
achieve theirs) will be CONFLICT. You are controlling another person
whenever you have a GOAL regarding how that person should behave
(no matter how laudible that goal may seem to you-- such as the
goal to having people STOP beating their kids) and when you ACT in
order to perceive that person's behavior matching your goal. The
simple (and erroneous) solution to "bad control" is to try to
control it. Again, things are a LOT easier in imagination.

This fourth point is something an "activist" might want to think
about -- very seriously.