Society, Rights and the Lessons of PCT

[From Rick Marken (940615.1100)]

Bill Leach (940614.20:21 EST(EDT)) --

I do not accept that this "progress" is anything less than improvement in
the human condition.

Great. PCT doesn't say anything about whether one should "accept that this
"progress" is anything less than improvement in the human condition" or not.
It is about how you are able to accept or not accept _anything_.

I perceive that I am being told that any enforcable rules for behaviour
are not justifiable using PCT.

Nothing is "justifiable" using PCT. PCT explains things; it doesn't say what
should be done (that's what justification is, is it not?). Let me give an
example. This country has tons of laws regarding drug usage and distribution
and they are enforced like crazy. I happen to think that most of these laws
are out to lunch because they create more of what I perceive as problems
(violence, crime) than they solve (keeping people from taking drugs). I base
my opposition to drug laws on my understanding of PCT; PCT says (I think)
that people who want drugs will do whatever is necessary to get them (ergo,
violence, theft) and it also says that people who want big money and who
don't worry about risks will do the same (ergo, gang violence). Disturbances
(like the people enforcing the drug laws) will be resisted. Drug laws are (to
me) an attempt to control behavior by coercion -- with the expected results.

So I base my opposition to drug laws on PCT; but PCT doesn't say that drug
laws are unjustified or wrong!! PCT just shows what will happen as a result
of enforcing drug laws -- violence and crime. I happen to dislike violence
and crime more than I dislike the thought of people taking drugs. So I oppose
drug laws. But PCT doesn't say that I should or should not oppose drug laws;
my opposition is based on my own preferences (the settings of my own
reference signals)!!! I don't mind seeing drugged out people; I mind
seeing people cut in two by a sawed off shotgun. But that's just ME!!
Many people, including people who understand PCT, may have different
preferences. I think it's quite possible for a person to understand PCT and
agree with me completely about the effects of the drug laws and still be in
favor of those laws simply because their reference for seeing people take
drugs is set at a different level than mine.

I recognize that ALL such justification requires some sort of value
judgement(s) from philosophy

All value judgements are comparisons of perceptions to reference signals.

It seems to me that I do hear people on the net saying that one can
conclude from PCT that people should be allowed to control their own
behaviour as much as possible

It's "control their own perception" and people don't have to be "allowed" to
do it; they do it no matter what; people are organized as perceptual control

A second example is that it is a good idea not to attempt to control such
that one is in conflict with another control system.

Again, only if one does not want to perceive the negative consequences of

It seems to me that the "right to live" is a fundamental right

What is a "right"? Try to think about "rights" in terms of PCT.

The point is that there are some forms of control action that are
fundamentally wrong and they are wrong without resorting to religious
beliefs for the philosophy.

What does "fundamentally wrong" mean? How can a control action be
"fundamentally wrong"? The only way I can think of is if it increases error;
but then there is positive feedback and, hence, no control. I suppose
positive feedback is fundamentally wrong.

It would seem to me that it is logical to conclude that whatever form of
society allows people to control for minimum intrinsic error would be by
definition the best form.

Why is this logical? It is simply something you would conclude because the
perception of everyone with minimum error is one that you prefer. I happen to
prefer it too. But that's just because that's where our references are set.
PCT doesn't tell us to set them there. There is nothing "logical" that
prevents people from tolerating a society where people are experiencing
massive error; heck, it happens all the time. Hitler seemed to be pretty
tolerant of people in his society living with substantial amounts of
intrinsic error and he was a pretty logical guy; I bet he could solve
problems in Boolean algebra as well as anyone.

I'm afraid there is no recipe book that tells you, logically, the way things
should be. Many people want to believe that there is such a recipe book --
the Bible, the Koran, Ayn Rand, the teachings of Mao, "Behavior: The
control of perception" -- but there ain't (unless you want to believe there
is). PCT will not help you find the "right" way for you or other people to
be. But it can show you how you can or why you can't get to where you already
have determined is the "right" place for you to be.

What I am trying to say is that PCT does hint at what the most important
goal for a society should be and why.

I don't think so. PCT might help determine whether a group of people
(society) can achieve some collectively agreed to goal; but it can't tell
you what that goal should be. Sorry.

I believe that what Rand was trying to do in philosophy is similar to what
PCT is doing in behaviour.

I don't thinl so. She was doing prescriptive "philosophy" and justifying it
with questionable assumptions about human nature. We are doing experimental
science that we know doesn't justify any particular way of behaving or
organizing people; it just shows the way people work.

Bill Leach (940614.19:42 EST(EDT))--

I still believe that one can and should try to determine what behaviour
is or is not conducive to allowing a human to be a human.

I think PCT shows that such a search will be quite elusive. There can, in
principle, be no particular behavior (reference setting for a lower level
perception) that is always "conducive to allowing a human to be a human". All
behavior (except the settings for intrinsic perceptual variables) must be
variable in order to compensate for disturbances to higher level perceptions.
The idea that there are absolute "right" ways to behave is ruled out by the
PCT model. So the PCT model leads me to exactly the opposite belief from the
one you state.

Can you think of any behavior that is or is not always conducive to allowing
a human be a human?



<[Bill Leach 940615.20:36 EST(EDT)]

[Rick Marken (940615.1100)]

Uncle! I give but at least now I very well know what it is that I am
giving up on; That is that you, unlike myself, do not believe that there
is any set of standards for interaction between humans that can be proven
as necessary using a logical system.

It least now (finally) it is obvious to me that the problem is not a PCT
"problem" at all but a philosophical belief problem. I will admit that I
definately have to go back and look at Rand again though it would be best
if I wait a year or two.

I would make a comment about the futility of this exercise but once
again, it is my opinion that this exchange has improved my understanding
of PCT because I was indeed too loose with what I thought that I could
conclude from PCT itself. Also, I think I understand the manner in which
comments will be viewed here better than before (and that is not intended
to sound like a negative comment but rather that I have a better
appreciation for the rigor with which PCT concepts are applied and the
strong effort to leave "opinion" out of the discussions).