Types of Goals: Elementary Goal Structure
Can we predict individual or collective behavior? In the general lore of scientists the view still prevails that unlike in physics, chemistry, or biology, where processes follow certain universal sequences and are "predictive" (in terms of probabilities), social behavior and processes are not. However, when a man follows a certain direction, his conduct may be anticipated in terms of probabilities; his past behavior and personality, past behavior of groups, even nations-- in a word, past experience--supply a certain basis for human foresight; without foresight there is no statesmanship. Results of our actions or behavior may not be predictive, but still behavior may. Of course, our forecast is only a probability, more often than not a very tentative one. Still, foresight in human conduct is exercised in our everyday experience, and it is obvious to a point that we fail to notice it in our daily routine. Thus, I may "predict" or "forecast" that the post office at Forty-third Street in New York City will be open on Monday and closed on Sunday. I can also "predict" that in the Wall Street district mail will be heavy on weekdays, while far less so on Sunday. I know that the firemen in New York will respond--with high probability--within ten to fifteen minutes to a fire alarm.
Thus we may roughly classify human behavior into predictive (in terms of probabilities, of course) and nonpredictive.
The church, city hall, or post office are quite different in their functions, but all of them are institutions, and institutional behavior is predictive, within certain limits. We know that a religious service will take place at Saint Patrick's Cathedral during the Easter holy days, while the post office and city hall in New York will be closed, except for emergency services. There is no certainty, of course. But empirical inquiry moves only within the limits of probability.
Contract law assumes predictive behavior that roughly follows the rules of