Levels of Communications Goals
Relative to the broad subject of communication, there seem to be three levels of goals for effective communication. There could be more, perhaps 4 or 5 levels. Could pragmatic also be a level?
Thus it seems reasonable to ask, serially:
- Level A – Accurately transmit the symbols. (The technical goal.)
- Level B – Precisely convey the desired meaning. (The semantic goal.)
- Level C – Effect conduct in the desired way. (The effectiveness goal.)
- Level D – The desired conduct is the best conduct to achieve the intent of the communication. (The Pragmatic Goal)
The Techincal Goal
The technical goal is concerned with the accuracy of transference from the sender to the receiver of sets of symbols (written speech) or of a continuously varying signal (pictures, voice, or music),
So stated, one would be inclined to think that Level A is a relatively superficial one, involving only the engineering details of good design of a communication system; while B, C & D seem to contain most if not all of the philosophical content of the general problem of communication. If they believe that they would wrong.
Part of the significance this approach comes from the fact that levels B, C, & certainly D above, can make use only of those signal accuracies which turn out to be possible when analyzed at Level A. Thus any limitations discovered in theory at Level A necessarily apply to levels B, C, and D.
But a larger part of the significance comes from the fact that the analysis at Level A discloses that this level overlaps the other levels more than one could possibly naively suspect. Thus the theory of Level A is, at least to a significant degree, also a theory of levels B, C, & D.
The Semantic Goal
It is concerned with identity or a satisfactorily close approximation of the intended meaning of the sender and the interpretation of meaning by the receiver.
The Effectiveness Problem.
It is concerned with the extent to which the received meaning affects the conduct of the receiver in the way desired by the sender.
As remarked by Lin (N. Lin, 1973) the problems of communication in the Shannon-Weaver model can be seen as presenting three aspects:
i) syntactics (means)
ii) semantics (meanings)
iii) pragmatics (motives).