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Re: [ontolog-forum] Confusion about 'model'

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: john kearns <kearns@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ingvar Johansson <ingvar.johansson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 11:31:58 +0200
Message-id: <469C8C8E.2050300@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat Hayes schrieb:
> On Jul 15, 2007, at 7:26 AM, John F. Sowa wrote:
>> Barry and Wacek,
>> I agree with Barry about the normal use of natural languages:
>>> When I say 'the cat is on the mat' I, for one, am not intending
>>> to create a model of reality. Rather, I am attempting to say
>>> something about reality itself (this very cat).
>> But I believe that making an explicit distinction between the model
>> and reality is important for any application of formal languages,
>> especially those that are processed by any computer system.
> And for the record, I believe that this is a basic mistake. The  
> 'model' here (ie in Tarski's sense) can *be* a part of reality.  
> Tarski himself seems to have taken his view by his choice of example:  
> "Snow is white" is true when snow, in fact, is white. No "model"  
> there: he is talking about (real) snow and (really being) white.  
> Similar examples can be found in the semantic writings of (among  
> others) Quine, Russell, and Strawson.  In fact hardly any  
> philosophers of language seem to have concluded that because our  
> language only describes part of the structure of the world, that  
> therefore it must be not about the actual world but instead about  
> something entirely different, called a "model" of it.
>       (01)

I think the solution to the problem of models and reality lies in 
realizing that an assertive sentence, as well as a model, can be used in 
three completely different ways: (1) to talk about a reality that exists 
independently of the speech act in question, (2) to talk about a 
fictional reality, and (3) in assumptive talk.  One person may (falsely) 
claim 'There is a planet Vulcan between Mercury and the sun'; another 
person may say 'Vulcan is a fiction, but I will use it in my next 
science fiction story', and a third person may say 'Let us assume that 
there is a planet Vulcan between Mercury and the sun'. Moreover, it is 
possible to switch between these three kinds of uses. For instance, the 
third person in my example may later switch to claiming either that 
there really is such a planet, or that it has turned out that Vulcan is 
a fiction (that is, has no spatiotemporal existence). The history of 
science teaches us that, so to speak, we have to fictionalize some 
models that earlier were thought to be true to the world. Therefore, we 
have to make a distinction between models and reality, but nonetheless 
in science aim to make the models truthlike models of reality.    (02)

Best wishes,
Ingvar J    (03)

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