Korede Aderele
korede [at] drexel.edu

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stateful vs stateless actors

Feb 21 2019

a thought/metaphor comparing actors in a rationalist/naturalist context to stateless/pure functions and stateful functions (objects/classes) in programming language theory. inspired by my “Wealth and Power” class (SOC 220 at Drexel)

(lifted directly from my class notes)

looking critically at naturalism we realize that it suggests that all incentives or driving forces on individuals come as a result of external forces and doesn’t take into account internal motivation… while in reality, there’s internal forces that actually directly determine people’s behavior, and external forces are kind of proxied via internal forces that differ from actor to actor. indeed internal forces can be influenced by different external forces that are encountered over time, meaning that the history of an actor is also relevant to how they behave.

an interesting way to port this contrast over to programming language theory is in comparing stateless/pure functions and stateful functions (object/classes) → stateless functions (agents who, according to naturalism, are only influenced by external factors) have their output fully determined by their input parameters and always return the same vs stateful functions (agents in a practical context who have dynamic internal motivations) who hold onto some internal state which might be manipulated by any parameters passed to it over a programs lifetime

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