RT translations of PCT?, Delprato's fallout...

[From Chris Cherpas (951027.0930 PT)]
[re: >Bruce Abbott (951026.1130 EST)]


Skinner spoke of the study of operant conditioning as the "very field of
purpose." Unfortunately, for Skinner, the purposivness of behavior (in the
sense that it was aimed toward accomplishing some specific consequence) was
an illusion produced by the process of behavioral variation and selective
reinforcement. Control theory holds that behavior is indeed organized so as
to bring about internally specified perceptual states.

I suppose in behaviorese, the "internally specified perceptual states" are
translated as "the rat is always right" in the sense that what is
reinforcing for a given behavior is specific to that organism/behavior
at that specific moment in time. The momentary value of some event
would be said to be a function of "establishing operations" (see Jack
Michael's many writings in JEAB and elsewhere), such as deprivation or
aversive conditions.


Moreover, purposive
systems constructed along the lines suggested by control theory have been
built, and these behave exactly as a system guided by an internally
specified goal or reference should act.

If you've seen a simulation that produces cumulative records typical of
FI, FR, VI, FR, and CONC-VI-VI schedules, I am indeed impressed.


Thus there is no reason to assume
that brains cannot be constructed so as to act according to internally
specified references rather than merely re-acting to external stimuli, and
very good reason to think that they can--and are.

Whether its internal references or external stimuli, it seems the problem
is still one of how to find the functional relations between these and the
classes of behvavior that maintain certain values. Out of almost total
ignorance of PCT (see below), it appears to me that instead of "operant" units
one has "control system" units of analysis.

[On melioration (e.g., Vaughan and Herrnstein)...]


This sounds like a fair description. Such analyses are not based on control
principles but rather on some kind of equilibrium principle.

Peter Killeen I think is the first one to notice that the matching law
appears to involve equalibrium among local reinforcement alternatives
-- as I recall, he called it an "equilization principle." In melioration
theory, Vaughan & Herrnstein state that it's the sensed differences
between local values that moves behavioral allocation around until it
reaches equilibrium in the steady state (given stable contingencies),
but an overall "reduce deviations from equilization" process is not
specifically claimed.

[On verbal behavior...]

There are places, however, as in verbal behavior, where the behavior of
a listener is necessarily what the speaker's behavior controls. In this
case the difference between what the "experimenter" sees as
relevant can be quite close to what the verbal behaver is controlling.


I have no idea what you mean here. What's the "difference between what the
'experimenter' sees"?

Sorry. I just meant that the definition of verbal behavior is behavior
whose reinforcement is mediated by a listener. If the speaker doesn't
see the resulting changes in the listener's behavior, the reinforcement
often can't occur (e.g., if the speaker asks, "What is your name?"). The
answer to that question, to be effective for the questioner, has to be public,
so a mythical "experimenter" would be able to detect what variable is being
controlled, unlike a lot of other events that are not publicly accessible.

***************************** cc's global disclaimer **********************
In any case, after reading the Delprato article that Chuck Tucker (951025)
posted, I see that I should resist posting anything else to this list at
least until after I've studied B:CP (the check's in the mail). Meanwhile,
I'm very encouraged by what I've seen here, and in Delprato's rendition,
of PCT.


Warm regards,