[From Bruce Abbott (941208.1845 EST)]
Mary Powers 941208
Hi, Mary, good to hear from you!
I think this leads to the heart of the matter: what the hell is
behavior anyway? For traditional psychology, apparently, not any
particular set of muscle contractions, for, as PCT maintains, and
psychologists (I think) agree, no particular set of muscle
contractions ever repeats. One can either shrug this fact off and
redefine behavior as behavioral consequences, as psychology has
done, or consider it one of THE fundamental phenomena to be
explained, as PCT does.
One of the main points of PCT is that it proposes a mechanism by
which variable behavior leads to consistent perceived outcomes -
a mechanism in which in fact behavior MUST be variable in order
to do so.
And I agree with you that this ability to produce a consistent outcome by
variable means is accomplished via feedback-regulated control.
But that outcome is a perception, not a behavioral consequence.
Bruce's model looks like this:
behavior -> behavioral consequence -> effect on perception
PCT says this:
behavior -> effect on perception
It is the perception that I am, ultimately, talking about. But let's get
practical--that altered perception had to occur for some reason. Take a look
at Bill's operant conditioning model. In the model a keypeck does not
directly produce the perception of a change in the "appetite" perceptual
variable; this change is mediated by the environment model, which includes
such things as a parameter for grain quantity. The delivery of a specific
amount of grain following a keypeck mediates the perception of a changed
"appetite" level. What you call "Bruce's model" can be found in every block
diagram of perceptual control that includes the environment function. I am
attributing to those consequences of behavior that can be observed from the
outside no more than the roles assigned them in that diagram.
The effect on perception IS a behavioral consequence. Describing the
environmental linkages (promixal effects) mediating the behavior and the
changed perception does not negate that.