Skin bag theory

From[Bill Williams 16 June 2004 5:40 PM CST]

[Martin Taylor 2004.06.16.17.41]

[From Bill Powers (2004.06.15.0628 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2004.06.14.23.06 --

[From Bill Powers (2004.06.14.0614 MDT)]

Can
anything other than an individual perceive at all?

Surely that depends on what you mean by "perceive". Do you mean the
everyday notion of something that intrudes into a person's
consciousness, or do you mean the PCT definition? If you mean the
former, you ask about a tautology, perception having been defined as
something that happens inside a person.

Yes, I thought it was a tautology, too. I use the word perception to mean
the process by which human beings (and probably other organisms) experience
things from intensities to system concepts.

...

Define "perceive" and define "an individual" and you can have
whichever answer you like. But if you take a strict control-theoretic
viewpoint, the existence of a skin bag to delimit "the system" is not
required.

Yes it is. That is how I define the particular system I call a human being.

Sorry, I had thought you were asking a serious question, or perhaps a
rhetorical one that you expected everyone would answer as you would
do. But now I see that you get your answer _by definition_. Unfair
rhetoric, if you don't supply the definition beforehand.

## Martin has exposed Bill Powers' definition of what it means to be a "human

## being." A human being according to Bill Powers is _just_ a skin bag.

## Definitions, it is often thought, are arbitrary therefore neither true nor

## false. However, defintions have consequences, and this definition of a

## human being is one that should be expected to have unfortunate consequences.

## Not neccesarily for all attempts to apply control theory to human behavior.

## The understanding of the way one wiggles a stick, or moves a mouse may not

## ordinarily be very drastically affected by the application of this definition.

## Greg Williams, however, years ago pointed out how, if one was "seriously"

## proposing to build a sophistological system such as PCT, it would be

## neccesary to find a more adaquate defintion of a human being. There were

## Greg said implicit understandings being built into even the directly

## experimental work carried out under the PCT caption that were not acknowledged.

## At the time I agreed with Greg, but didn't see the more encompassing

## of his criticism. It was Greg Williams argument that even at the level of

## the tracking task, the results obtained depended upon an implicit agreement

## between two "skin bags." That is two "skin bags" agree to colaborate in

## an experiment. Greg claimed that he could refute the whole of PCT by refusing

## to agree to this implicit act of colaboration and otherwise "behaving" by

## wiggling the stick as requested. Control theory may pass the most rigious of

## tests, but Bill Powers' PCT is something distinct from control theory, and

## not all of the specifications which have been employed in defininig PCT have

## been explicitly defined. When control theory is applied to actual human beings,

## and not just skin bags, there has, at least in some experiemnts, been more

## involved than is Bill Powerss' has included in his account of PCT. One of these

## has been an "aggreement" between the experimentor and the "subject" to

## in conducting the experiment. The experimental subject, even in PCT, is actually

## more than just a "skin bag." Thus at least some of the data that has been used

## to support the claims of PCT can only be counted as data as a result of equvocation.

Bill Williams