Taking Responsibility

[From Rick Marken (2002.09.29.0940)]

> Bill Powers (2002.09.28.0749 MDT)--
> Bill Williams (2002.09.27) --
> > Clearly an
> >environmental disturbance is causally connected to an organism's output. The
> >rubber band experiement demostrates this much. And other experiements
> >numerically show a very high coorelation between a disturbance and an
> >organism's output.
> What you say is true, but I've been surprised to see that this "behavioral
> illusion" can be taken to mean, "disturbances make me do what I do, so I
> have no responsibility for my own actions." This interpretation overlooks
> the fact that the actions would not occur if one were not controlling that
> particular variable. One is surely the agent responsible for controlling
> what one controls.

Yes. I've seen this. And I've also seen "internal references specify what a person
controls" taken to mean "I am never responsible for controlling other peoples'
behavior". The idea is that if people control their own behavior then I can't
possibly be responsible for controlling it. This interpretation overlooks the fact
that my attempts to control other people's behavior involves nothing more than
what I attribute to the objects of my control: the ability to set internal
references that specify what I control.

PCT provides many tools for those who want to verbally avoid taking responsibility
for their own behavior.

Best regards



Richard S. Marken
310 474-0313

[From Bruce Gregory (991119.1243 EST)]

In our discussion of responsibility, Rick has argued forcefully that we
are only responsible for the perceptions we are controlling and not for
the unintended side effects of those perceptions. Martin has pointed out
that most of our success is attributable to just such side effects.
(Rick gets to the meeting on time _because_ he exceeds the legal speed
limit.) It might make some sense to entertain the possibility that we
could treat the unintended side-effects of our control of some
perceptual variable in exactly the same way we treat the control of the
variable. That is, we could adopt the viewpoint that we _are_
responsible for the side effects. At the very least this would minimize
conflicts with highway patrol officers.

Bruce Gregory