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Re: [ontolog-forum] Model or Reality

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Mills Davis <lmd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2007 16:11:48 -0400
Message-id: <19EF202C-A667-4E6B-B057-C0E0D35E82DC@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

In our Ontolog Forum threads it seems some lines of discussion follow from particular philosophic orientations, and that to the speaker this perspective is privileged. But, multiple philosophic orientations exist that have value, make contributions, and have their own strengths and limitations.  

For example, Googling I've come across pages that discuss philosophical assumptions that underly different research perspectives in different disciplines.  The enclosed linked table is an example of one analysis -- this one discussing three such perspectives or philosophical orientations relating to design research in the information systems space.

Here is a link to the source website where you'll find a general overview of design research, including a discussion of  its philosophical and epistemological underpinnings, and contrast of design research in information systems with traditional positivist and qualitative research in information systems.

John Sowa and others have talked about the value of teaching our computers how to learn about other systems knowledge representations. I'm thinking that this a good discipline to apply to ourselves and our philosophic outlooks as part of the Ontolog Forum discussions.  Perhaps the Forum can work towards an integral perspective — not that every perspective has equal value, but rather that this keeps the forum open to all quality lines of inquiry.  

Let me start by revealing a bit about my orientation. I'm interested in axiology and value-based reasoning. Value formation and value-based reasoning seem fundamental to all areas of human endeavor. Theories applied embody values. The axiom of value is based on “concept fulfillment”  Most areas of human reasoning require application of multiple theories; resolution of conflicts, uncertainties, competing values, and analysis of trade-offs. For example, questions of guilt or innocence require judgment of far more than logical truth or falsity.

Mills Davis

On Aug 11, 2007, at 11:39 AM, John F. Sowa wrote:


When we start getting into credential fights, this discussion
has reached a point where the best we can say is "Cool it!"

PH> Do you know anything at all about quantum physics, or indeed
physics generally?

AA> Know something, having PhD in physical and mathematical
sciences from Lebedev's Physical Institute [of the USSR Academy
of Sciences], which was stuffed by the Nobel prizes holders:
Cherenkov, Basov, Prohorov, Ginzburg and Sakharov, they their
responsible for doctorate degrees. Also, i have a book about
Information Physics.

Many people on this list have impressive credentials in one or
more fields, but all the learned discussion of the past week
or two suggests the following observations:

  1. This many heated email exchanges would not have occurred
     if people did not believe that ontology is important.

  2. Yet there is a decided lack of consensus on some fundamental
     principles, assumptions, goals, and directions for the field.

These fights are reminiscent of the debates about a hundred years
ago on the foundations of mathematics.  Very intelligent people
like Hilbert, Frege, Peirce, Poincare, Russell, Whitehead, Brouwer,
Lesniewski, Lukasiewicz, Wittgenstein, Ramsey, and many others
were engaged in fighting about logicism, formalism, intuitionism,
and other -isms as the appropriate foundation for mathematics --
or, on the contrary, whether mathematics was in need of any
foundation at all.  And one rather shy person named Kurt Goedel
didn't take part in the fighting.  He just proved a little
theorem that showed that many of the fights were irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the working mathematicians -- both pure and applied --
ignored the fighting about foundations and just used mathematics
to solve problems.  Eventually, the people who were fighting either
died, retired, or moved on to other issues.  And the mathematicians
who worked on solving problems continued to ignore the foundations
without finding any reason to pay attention to the fights.

The work on foundations actually resulted in some useful ideas
that found their way into the methodologies that the working
mathematicians today are actually using.  However, the people
who had problems to solve were right in not wasting their time
on fights that had no immediate application to their work.

I think that we should learn from that experience.



Mills Davis
Managing Director
202-255-6655 cel
1-800-713-8049 fax

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