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Re: [ontolog-forum] Laws: physical and social

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 2013 10:56:29 -0400
Message-id: <51B1F49D.7090306@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Doug,    (01)

I agree with your analyses and conclusions.    (02)

> Of course, the vast majority of times the antecedent occurs,
> the consequent does not.    (03)

That is certainly true.  Every law -- of science, of some
legislature, or of your mommy -- has implications about the
consequences of following it or violating it.  But none of the
laws, including F=ma, can state all the contexts and conditions
that may affect or completely block the consequences.    (04)

For example, the laws of fluid mechanics, of which the Navier-Stokes
equation is a prime example, are based on F=ma plus many assumptions
about the nature of the fluid.  In effect, those laws relate the
mass and acceleration of each particle of fluid to the forces being
exerted on it by surrounding particles.    (05)

The result is a very complex differential equation that is
(a) at best an approximation, since the assumptions are not
completely true, (b) far too complex to solve for most practical
problems even with the fastest supercomputers, and (c) impossible
to get complete data for all initial conditions of every particle
in the fluid.    (06)

For such reasons, engineers don't get problems that can be solved
just by plugging values into an equation and cranking out an answer.
As they say, "All models are wrong, but some are useful."    (07)

> It seems to me that it is far better to model social laws as
> proscriptions -- and then to derive predictions from them based
> on context, than to skip the proscriptive definition and jump
> straight to their predictive force.    (08)

It is also true that different laws have different origins, and
any ontology should classify them based on the source, the range
of applicability, and the mode of enforcement.  The term
'proscription' just means a law that is stated and enforced
by some authority.    (09)

Therefore, the general category of Law (or whatever you want
to call it) will have subcategories for which you can choose
different names.  Examples:  charter, constitution, by-law,
rule, regulation, proscription, prohibition, recommendation,
or just habit.  (Social norms, for example, are shared habits.)    (010)

But the same principle applies to every one of them, no matter
what its source, level of confidence, or kinds of exceptions:
their essential meaning is a prediction about the future.    (011)

John    (012)

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