Ramble, ramble, ramble.
I'm sure anybody with programming knowledge (or a mind delighted by trivia) will have come up with this already. I was watching Ray take a bath the other day (see below), and this happened to wander across my mind...
How do people make decisions? It isn't as simple as setting priorities and following them. If that were the case, people wouldn't change, and wouldn't adapt to changing situations.
Here's what I came up with:
1. Priorities: These are the things you value, either consciously or unconsciously. For the sake of the ramble, let's say they fall into if-then patterns. If you see a chance to do something nice for someone else at a cost relative to the person's worth to you personally, then do it. If you have to choose among things you would otherwise find equally desireable, then chose the most stylish item. If you don't want to be held responsible for something, then blame someone else. *If 1, then A. If 2, then B. If 3, then not A. If 4, then not B.
2. Metapriorities: These are the ideas that set the relative weight of your priorities. Let's say they fall into "vision statement" patterns or what people call their "philosophy of life." The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Know thyself. The one who dies with the most toys, wins. *A is better than B. In case of A, not A conflict, choose A. In case of B, not B conflict, choose not B.
3. Feedback: This is how we know our priorities aren't fulfilling the rules set by our metapriorities. This is harder to give pat examples for. It's easier to say *If more B than A, change priorities to If 3, then A and If 2, then A. So if A is generosity and B is ice cream, and you find out you're pretty selfish with your ice cream, then you'll start changing the specific instances in which you'd give away your ice cream so you'd be a more generous person.
4. Metafeedback: This is how we know our metapriorities aren't fulfilling the rules set by our priorities. *If more than X priorities much be changed to satisfy metapriority Y must be modified so less than or equal to X priorities must be changed. So if you find yourself having changed your priorities so you always give away your ice cream, you start telling yourself that maybe generosity isn't that great, and maybe you need to change your ideas about generosity instead of giving away all your damn ice cream. Metafeedback also applies to feedback and metafeedback: if the pot can't contain itself, what does contain the pot?
5. Choice: This is how conscious we are of all of the above.