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Re: [ontolog-forum] Axiomatic ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 02:20:50 -0400
Message-id: <48C8B8C2.3070702@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rob and Rick,    (01)

There's nothing new in that article:    (02)

The End of Theory:  The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete    (03)

Ibn Taymiyya said it earlier and better.  And he said it in the
14th century AD without any help from Google.  See Section 2 of
the following article:    (04)

    Analogical Reasoning    (05)

It all depends on how general your generalizations are, and how many
exceptions there are.  If the exceptions outnumber the generalizations,
it's far better to go back to raw data and use analogical reasoning.
Taymiyya said that, and he was right.  But both Ibn Taymiyya and
Chris Anderson overlooked the importance of theory when the
generalizations are truly general.    (06)

Taymiyya admitted that logical deduction from theories is important
in mathematics.  But in those days, the only empirical subject in
which deduction was reliable was astronomy.  The Ptolemaic theory
put the earth at the center, but the calculations were precise.
(By putting the sun at the center, Copernicus simplified the
calculations, but he didn't improve the accuracy.)    (07)

Today, modern science and engineering would be impossible without
a very large number of very well tested theories.  The simple
equation F=ma, for example, covers an enormous range of phenomena
without exceptions.  It would be impossible to design a car, a
train, or an airplane without using such generalizations.    (08)

But Taymiyya was correct for his specialty, which was legal
reasoning.  The number of exceptions is so great that chains of
purely deductive inference are very short.  Analogical reasoning
from the data (called 'precedents') is essential, and legal
scholars have kept and used well indexed volumes of legal cases
that cover many centuries of legal precedents.    (09)

Since Taymiyya made his observations before the development of
modern science, his oversights are excusable.  But Chris A.
should have known better.    (010)

John    (011)

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