[Martin Taylor 950208 10:30]
Bill Powers (950207.2145 MST)
Cleaning up mail before little jaunt to Utah tomorrow.
Sounds great. Is Utah snowy in winter?
But all of this means nothing
with respect to what a person's responsibilities actually, factually,
Since we are dealing ONLY with an agreement about the usage of a word, the
notion of "what a person's responsibilities actually, factually, ARE" is
kind of vacuous, don't you think?
Martin Taylor (950207 15:30)--
Rick said something about a person who intended to run a car into a
lamp-post being responsible for the car hitting the lamp-post, but
not for the dead pedestrians, since those were unintended side
effects (or something like that). It seems to me that
responsibility in this same sense should include those side effects
that were reasonably probable or readily imagined.
I'll see your side effects and raise you: damage to the lamp-post, which
is public property, and the welfare of dependents and other relatives,
and the cost to the insurance company, and the pain and suffering of the
people who lived nearby and had to witness a horrible accident.
As I understand it, "responsibility" labels a perception that someone
has relating to causality. Inasmuch as, to use Ted Nelson's words,
"everything is deeply intertwingled," the notion of "responsibility as
cause" is suspect right at its root. But a perception or set of related
perceptions exists in many of us, that we label "responsibility." That
perception has a value. In Rick's example, the value of "responsibility"
for the car hitting the lamppost is high, the value for the readily
anticipated side effects high but less so, and as the effects disperse
around the world (damage to the lamp-post, ...and the welfare of dependents
and other relatives,...) the value of the associated "responsibility"
perception becomes progressively lower.
Yes, you can say that the car driver "is" or "should be held" responsible
for these things. Or you can say otherwise, that ONLY the controlled CEV
is the driver's responsibility. It's a question of where you apply your
value threshold to the perception in saying that the perception "exists."
There seems to be a point here which is very difficult to convey.
can talk all you please about holding other people responsible for
whatever you like.
Yes. It's one's own perception, after all.
Once you have stated your view, the problem is then
to get the person to accept that responsibility and start controlling
for the things you think should be controlled for.
That's a separate issue entirely. To get someone else to control for
a perception you want them to have, at a value you want them to accept,
is always a difficult problem, which goes to the heart of the other
discussion about how social conventions come to be accepted by the
members of the society.
When you say "people are responsible for X," you are using the form of a
statement of fact.
True. We often use this kind of shorthand when talking about our perceptions.
We say things like "the monitor is sitting on the table" when all we mean
is that we have that perception, even though someone else might not see the
same thing at all. So what?
But this is just shorthand for saying "I believe or
recommend that people should assume responsibility for X" or "I propose
that we enforce the taking of responsibility for X."
Sometimes that kind of expansion is indeed intended. Language is malleable,
and one can't always be sure that one reads into a statement the same thing
that the talker/writer intended. But these are certainly common enough.
"Being responsible for" (perception) often leads to "should assume
responsibility for" (attempt to control another person). It's a question
of whether you are controlling for a perception that the "responsible"
person appears to hold the same value for a perception of "responsibility"
that you do.
[About how society "should" work:]
PCT doesn't care which way we decide. The only thing about this that is
interesting in connection with PCT is the _process_. The particular
outcome of the negotiations is of no theoretical interest.
Right. However, the possible stability of different outcomes is presumably
of interest to PCT. Certain configurations of interacting control systems
are presumably stable or nearly so, while others are not, and runaway in
the kind of positive feedback event that another thread is discussing.
The only clear meaning of responsibility that has any theoretical
content is the idea that people select variables to control and are the
agents responsible for controlling them. Unless we take off our
theoreticians' hats and enter the fray, there is no other meaning of
responsibility that matters.
I disagree; see above. In any case, you are pretty fast and free with
your "select variables to control" here, aren't you? There's been lots
of discussion on that point without, so far as I can see, any theoretical
resolution. Mary says that such decisions happen only when there is
conflict, and you have quoted her with approval. Are we to think that
there is a theoretical relation to "responsibility" only when a conflict
exists and has been resolved?
I think it is legitimate to say that a person is just as
responsible for ...
This illustrates my point. To say it is legitimate is to announce that
there is a reasoning process behind whatever is going to be said, and
that this reasoning conveys a certain amount of authority to support
what would otherwise just be a personal opinion.
I think that the words "I think" announces that it IS a personal opinion,
but that it is not an unreasoned one. Does lack of reasoning augment or
diminish the authority of the opinion?
The particular laws you want to make have nothing to do with PCT.
Don't they? If one can make arbitrary laws that ensure conflict (e.g.
"Park only beside the yellow lines" and "Penalty for parking beside yellow
lines: $50") I would think PCT would have something to say about the
probable results. PCT should be able, eventually, to predict the likely
effect of any law in the context of the social conventions and other laws
in which it is promulgated.
One place where "assuming responsibility" IS a matter for PCT is when people
try to control for "making the partner happy" and fail, and then "assume
responsibility for" the partner's unhappiness. I take it that this
"assuming responsibility for" comes down to a perception of their own
control process, with a corresponding control system that has a substantial
Bill Powers (950207.1330 MST)
You're still talking in practical terms, as I was doing about guns,
above. Society is a human invention, as is the machinery for making it
Do I sense a personal opinion, expressed as if it were a fact, with the
authority of thought behind it?
Actually, quite apart from the needle here, I am not persuaded that the
statement is true. All sorts of animals have societies, some of them
very like our own. So, bang goes the "human" in your statement. As for
"invention", I would take that as a metaphor in the same (exactly the same)
sense as "Nature never invented the wheel for vertebrate locomotion."
Societies are evolved structures, with precious little invention about them.
And, like evolved animals, there are all sorts of different ways they can
be put together with moderate stability, so yes: "There isn't any one way
that's objectively right."
And THAT's a fact