strong influences

[From Bill Powers (981019.0653 MDT)]

Bruce Abbott (981018) --

writing to Rick:

So you are saying that a PCTer doesn't believe that the environment has any
strong influence on behavior. That is what "control" means in one sense of
the word -- exerts a strong influence on. Thus a PCTer doesn't believe
that, for example, disturbances have any strong influence on actions. Wow,
I learn something new here every day.

I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone would be satisfied with taking your
definition of control literally. Suppose I hand you a button and tell you
that pressing it will instantly cause your car to move 25 miles. That, I
think, would count as a "strong influence" on the car. This could be very
useful sometimes, when your destination is close to 25 miles away -- think
of the savings on gasoline.

But I don't think you would use the button. If you have any imagination,
you won't even use it once, but you would certainly never use it a second
time. The problem is that while the button gives you a strong influence on
the car, it doesn't let you pick the effect this influence will have. If
you're foolhardy enough to use the button while you're in the car, you have
an excellent chance of finding yourself 15 miles in the air or 15 miles
underground. You can have a strong -- very strong -- influence on the car,
but you can't control the outcome. And that's what control is all about:
preselecting the outcome and bringing it about. Apparently the makers of
dictionaries have failed to think through their definition sufficiently to
see what they are taking for granted.


Bill P.