[FRIAM] Peirce's "What Pragmatism is."

Eric Charles eric.phillip.charles at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 14:49:33 EDT 2018

Number of interactions shouldn't determine whether it is tight or loose,
should it?

My behavior could be tightly coupled to a thing rarely encountered, and
loosely coupled to things commonly encountered, couldn't it? For example,
my standing could be tightly coupled to the rank of the person who just
walked in the room, even if there is almost never a person of sufficient
rank to generate the response. In contrast, my use of foul language is only
loosely coupled to the sensibilities of those around me, though I am around
people with various sensibilities quite often.

To take behavior out of it for a second: The melting of steel is tightly
coupled to temperature, but the conditions under which the melting occurs
are rarely encountered on the earth's surface. In contrast, during many
points in human history the functional quality of ancient blades was only
loosely coupled to the quality of the blacksmith, because it was much more
tightly coupled with the quality of the ore. The number of interactions
isn't really what's relevant.

To return to the floor... the tightness is in the definitive and
unhesitating nature of the interaction. The look of someone who wonders if
the floor is there, and the non-committal nature of their feet going down
is what is contrasted with the committed action of the person who believes
the floor is there. You can, if you want, translate the psychological
language of "committed" with the dynamic-systems language of "tightly

For fresher example: The behavior of an expert dart thrower is tightly
coupled to the state of the game and the scores on the target, while the
behavior of an amateur dart thrower is not. And that is true even if the
expert is resting on laurels and rarely practices, while the amateur is
obsessed and practices constantly.

For another: A professional poker-tournament player's level of aggression
is tightly coupled to the phase of the tournament, the relative size of his
chip stack, and his position at the table. That is what it means to say
that the professional tournament player "believes" that varying betting
based on those factors is important to good play. The casual player does
not believe those are all important, as one can see by the loose coupling
of his behavior to those factors. Once again, rate of action or number of
actions isn't really what is at play.

Eric P. Charles, Ph.D.
Supervisory Survey Statistician
U.S. Marine Corps
<echarles at american.edu>

On Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 11:17 AM, uǝlƃ ☣ <gepropella at gmail.com> wrote:

> Heh, that's completely inverted.  You're claiming that fewer interactions
> between the individual and its environment imply a tighter coupling between
> them.  I'm claiming that more interactions between them imply a tighter
> coupling.
> Maybe think about it this way.  Imagine 2 androids (no "beliefs", just
> behaviors) lying on tables in a lab.  Android A reaches down with an arm to
> touch the ground, then moves its legs and gets off the table. We can count
> 2 (coarse) interactions with the ground: touching it, then standing on it.
> Android B just gets off the table without touching it first.  We count 1
> (coarse) interaction.  You claim Android B is more tightly coupled with the
> ground than Android A.  I claim Android A is more tightly coupled with the
> ground than Android B.
> ###
> On 03/28/2018 07:23 PM, Eric Charles wrote:
> > Glen... I quite confused as to what you mean by tight and loose
> control...
> >
> > Let us take the case of belief in a tight relationship between my height
> off the ground and my likelihood of being injured in a jump. If I firmly
> believe that, then whether or not I jump is tightly coupled with the
> height. If I doubt such a relationship exists, then the height I find
> myself at will be only loosely coupled with my likelihood of jumping...
> right? Is that not the type of thing you are referring to with "tight" and
> "loose" control?
> >
> > Either way, Peirce is more interested in the higher-order question of
> what leads beliefs to be stable. There are many answers to that question
> (see his "Fixation of Belief"), though the interesting answer, the one he
> tries to elaborate for the rest of his life, is fixation via the scientific
> process, in which beliefs stabilize (control behavior more tightly) as
> their implications attain in practice, and destabilize (control behavior
> more loosely) as their implications fail to attain in practice. In that
> context, the scientific context, "Truth" or "Real" are odd terms we use to
> refer to those things for which all implications will attain in the very,
> very long run.
> >
> > (... which might, in the very, very long run, turn out to be almost
> nothing...)
> >
> > So, there is, on the one hand, something to be said about the "control"
> that is the belief itself, and something else to be said about the
> "control" that is the sociological stability of the belief and the basis of
> that stability.
> >
> > In your case of the "dead horse" of putting feet on the floor, the
> "tight coupling" is what happens when one acts their entire daily life
> without once checking the belief. Doubt makes one put ones feet down
> tentatively, makes one walk with caution. The relation of the person to the
> floor gets looser as doubt increases... doesn't it? The person who firmly
> believes the floor is there acts towards it unhesitatingly the whole day,
> thousands of times; his behavior is tightly coupled to a floor being
> present... as becomes obvious in a dramatic fall if it isn't.
> --
> ☣ uǝlƃ
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