Constraining vs Enabling

In the software profession, where I earn my living, there is a lot of discussion about the relative merits of constraining attitudes vs enabling attitudes. Martin Fowler introduced the idea.

The basic gist is that many social problems – and the hardest problems in Software Engineering are social problems – can be solved either by constraining a bad behaviour or by enabling good behavior to take its place. Once you recognize this pattern of problem resolution you see it popping up all over the place. Here’s an example from 50 years ago.

In his famous assault on B.F. Skinner, Chomsky laughed at Skinner’s effort to understand all parental efforts to help their children speak as driven by a need for control: “Underlying [Skinner’s] modes of explanation is a curious view that it is somehow more scientific to attribute to a parent a desire to control the child or enhance his own possibilities for action than a desire to see the child develop and extend his capacities. Needless to say, no evidence is offered to support this contention.”
[from blogger Babel’s Dawn]

Published by

Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *