Dear Colleagues, (01)
John, I strongly agree with you, especially about Peirce who strongly
influenced the work my team and I did. (02)
On the issu of intangibles, in our approach, these are largely made
tangible as norms shared by a group / culture / jurisdiction / . . . . (03)
In that form they are tangible through talking with the norm-subjects,
observing how they behave (according to the norms they assert or
tacit ones they betray by their actions) or by consulting the rule books
and legislation that they are obliged to follow. One source of vagueness. (04)
The reality they know is expressed in their perceptual norms and these
we model with a schema in Semantic Normal Form where each thing /
entity / affordance (our preferred term) has a surrogate that includes a
start and a finish of its existence and authorities for each of them. The
SNF schema will be the same over a wide range of cultures / jurisdiction
and it captures a great deal about the meaning of each term it includes
but not the finer points, which the start and finish authorities supply. A
second source of vagueness. (05)
Contracts are norm structures, of course, embedded in the higher
norms governing contracts in the relevant jurisdiction. Norms exist
in the minds of the norm-subjects. Some but not all norms may be
written as rules, which are sign-types standing for them. The rules
on a page of a statute or in a copy of the contract are sign-tokens
that are subject to all the woes of physical things. Norms are subject
to degradations of the memories of the many norm-subjects, who
also die. Contracts can fade away - a third source of vagueness that
may be helped by making a big public fuss through pomp and ceremony
especially in largely oral societies. (06)
In all this vagueness, the SNF schema provides valuable stability and
precision. I recommend it. It is based on an engineering rather than
a metaphysical approach to ontology (non-Sweb kind). It works very
well in the creation of a wide range of business systems and it opens
up a wide range of other fields of enquiry. (07)
If anyone is interested, have a look at two papers on www.rstamper.co.uk
better still, if you have any comments or criticisms, let me know. (08)
I'll be in deepest rural Auvergne in a few days where the internet
comes via very, very narrow band phone lines. But I'll try to hear you. (09)
[PS John, I had hoped to share a platform with you later this month in
Derby but communications with the organisers failed somehow Perhaps
because I was ill at the crucial time. I do regret losing this opportunity
to meet you. Another day, I hope!] (011)
On 8 Jul 2011, at 17:05, John F. Sowa wrote: (012)
> I was not trying to dismiss the serious issues. I was trying to state
> them in a precise form that distinguishes what can be stated clearly
> from the endless confusion that typically plagues them.
>> Pat's questions are perfectly good ones that help to characterise
>> an underlying issue.
> I agree. But you can't discuss them clearly without a suitable
> vocabulary -- preferably with a suitable ontology for that vocabulary.
>> Doug's proposal on intangible (presumably unperceivable) objects raises
>> all sorts of questions about what these could be - and Pat, to my mind
>> raised a perfectly good question.
> I agree. But using words like 'intangible' and 'unperceivable' states
> the issues in ways that make them unsolvable. The word 'sign', by
> itself, doesn't help much. What does help is the classification and
> analysis of how signs relate to the physical world, to mathematical
> and logical representations of the world, to the mechanisms of
> perception and action, and to languages, both natural and artificial.
>> It would be interesting to know how we manage to know about these
>> unperceivable objects, and how they manage to have such an effect
>> on our lives - despite have no spatial (and no temporal?) dimensions.
>> If one wants intangible objects in one's ontology, then one should
>> at least have some idea about how one might answer this.
> Exactly! And in order to answer such questions, you need to find
> somebody who has done fundamental research in science, mathematics,
> engineering, linguistics, psychology, logic, and philosophy -- and
> who has integrated all those issues into a coherent ontology.
> Fortunately, Charles Sanders Peirce did that.
> His first peer-reviewed publication was in chemistry. His first
> published book was on astronomy -- in which he presented the method
> that is still used today for estimating the distance of stars:
> classify them by their spectra, and within each class relate their
> brightness to the brightness of nearby stars whose distances can
> be measured by parallax.
> In the late 19th century, Peirce had an international scientific
> reputation in two fields simultaneously: a pioneer in logic and
> the inventor of the most precise instruments then available for
> measuring gravity. He was the first person to recommend the use
> of a wavelength of light for measuring length -- and he designed
> the tools to use that method to measure the length of the pendulums
> in his instruments for measuring gravity.
> In language, he was an associate editor of the _Century Dictionary_,
> for which he wrote, revised, or edited over 16,000 definitions --
> the most of any editor of that dictionary and far more than most
> philosophers have ever attempted.
> Peirce also recommended the use of electrical switching circuits
> for representing Boolean operators instead of the mechanical
> computing machines by Babbage, Jevons, and Marquand. In 1887,
> he published the first article that compared the logic machines
> of that time with human intelligence. That was in volume 1 of
> the _American Journal of Psychology_:
> The opening paragraph of that article and the concluding pages are
> more accurate and cogent than most of the verbiage written today.
>> What is interesting about Pat's question is that if all records (including
>> memories) of the promise are destroyed, then, one can argue that because of
>> its intentional nature, it is impossible to keep the promise.
> I agree. But Peirce not only considered such questions, he developed
> a systematic ontology for analyzing and answering them. For a brief
> intro, see section 2 (pp. 3-9) of the following article:
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