[From Rick Marken (960907.1000)]

Bill Powers (960906.1500 MDT) --

If you read his [Simon's] description, he's talking about feedback control,
but if you read his explanation, it's stimulus-response. The critical part

comes when he says that this is a goal-directed process -- and then

the goal as being a motor program produced out of perceptions of the


What is the intellectual barrier that prevents so many scientists from
taking >that last step?

The barrier is the cause-effect framework of behavior science. The whole
enterprise of behavioral (and cognitive and social) science is based on the
idea that sensory inputs cause response outputs via the organism. What is
called the "scientific method" in the behavioral sciences -- what I call the
IV-DV approach to research -- is based on this cause-effect model of
behavior. The idea that this cause-effect model might be wrong is simply
to most behavioral scientists. That, I believe, is why Simon (and _many_
other behavioral scientists) can see that behavior is goal-oriented and
purposeful, believe that behavior is equivalent to that of a servomechanism
(or control system) and _still_ think of behavior in terms of S-R,
cause-effect or input-output.

The intellectual barrier to seeing goal-directed behavior as the control of
perception is the cause-effect model of behavior. The next question, then,
is "why does the intellectual barrier persist, even after people are shown
dramatic evidence (like the lack of correlation between input and output in
a tracking task) that the cause-effect model is simply wrong"?


Now one could get the impression from your statement here that you are saying
that Simon does not view behavior in terms of an input-output model but,

rather, in terms of a servomechanism model that (one might imagine) is

consistent with PCT. I think the point Francisco was making with his
quotes >from Vera & Simon (1993) is that, if that _were_ what you were
saying, then
you _would_ have been speaking hogwash;-)

Bruce Abbott (960906.2045 EST) --

If someone _were_ to draw that inference, they'd be jumping to conclusions.

What a relief;-)

What I illustrated in my quoted material was that Simon, writing in 1969,
clearly recognized that the behavior of the ant was purposeful, goal
directed, could be explained via a simple mechanism (which turns out to be a
servomechanism, although he does not state that in the portion of his
writing I quoted), and that the apparent complexity of its behavior was a
consequence, not of an internal complexity in the ant, but of the
environment in which it found itself.

Whatever else Simon may have said before or since does not change that
fact, >leading me to wonder what relevance Francisco's quoted material has
to the >information I presented. I don't think it has any whatsoever.

I said that Simon's views were based on an input-output model of behavior.
You said they weren't. Francisco showed that Simon looks at purposeful
behavior in input-output terms. That was the relevance of Francisco's quoted
material to the information you presented.

I never claimed >that Simon fully understood the ramifications of his
insight (e.g., behavior as the control of perception, etc.), nor did I
claim that he pursues this view today.

Here's what you said:

Bruce Abbott (960906.1255 EST)--

What he says above not only sounds good, it IS good: it's based NOT on a

version of the old input-output view of behavior, but on the view that

the ant is a servomechanism.

You claimed that Simon did not look at behavior in input-output terms.
Francisco showed that you were wrong. That's life.

in this wonderful little (118 page) book...Simon offers a number of
ideas which are highly congenial to the PCTers way of thinking

If you're looking for qualitative ideas that are congenial to PCTers, I'd
recommend William James (or Michel de Montaigne, for that matter) over
Herbert Simon.

But Simon is posing as a scientist, not an artist. Therefore, I have to
evaluate the scientific, rather than the literary, merit of his ideas. In
science, a miss is a mile; Simon may have said things that suggested that
he was close to "getting it"; but so did Skinner, Tolman, etc. Because
these people never actually did "get it" -- they never did get the idea that
the cause-effect model of purposeful behavior is wrong -- they were never
able to begin a science of purposeful behavior. In fact, they never even
tried to begin such a science because they had no idea what such a science
would involve. And they had no idea what such a science would involve because
they didn't know that purposeful behavior is the control of perception.

A science of purpose is aimed at determining the perceptions controlled by
purposeful systems. Simon, the Nobel scientist, came no closer to
understanding this fact than all the other Nobel-less behavioral science
schlobs in the world;-)


[From: Dennis Delprato (9609070]

Bill Powers (960906.1500 MDT) --

What is the intellectual barrier that prevents so many scientists from
taking >that last step?

That 'last step' takes a whole lot of reorganization that will
never happen as long as they continue to find it easy to match
perceptual input to reference levels thanks to acclaim,
position, prizes, and so on. There is no 'ultimate accountability'
for claims in psychology, by which I mean no one in any position of
authority sees to it that claims actually have observable impact
in the world. Psychology and other sociobehavioral disciplines
tend to be one big closed society with defacto PR operatives
serving to delude uninformed members of the community regarding
the soundness of knowledge put forth by the quasi-scientific
practitioners at all levels. External monitoring from
managed care organizations is becoming enormously threatening
to the clinical branches of this rather inept community.
They are beginning to come up with schemes to maintain incomes
without changing basic postulates and practices--of course!

Dennis Delprato