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Re: [ontology-summit] [ontolog-forum] Estimating number of all known fac

To: ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 14:55:31 -0400
Message-id: <4FBFD5A3.8020409@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Avril, Michael, Alex, Tara, Jack, and James,    (01)

The examples you cite illustrate six fundamental principles:    (02)

  1. There are facts that are independent of the way we think or talk.    (03)

  2. But any statement based on the way we think or talk is relative
     to our choice of conceptual system (logic + ontology + methods
     of perception, interpretation, and reasoning).    (04)

  3. Statements that are formulated in terms of one conceptual system
     are often difficult or impossible to translate to another CS
     without loss or distortion.    (05)

  4. But within each conceptual system, there are standards of truth
     that are ultimately based on a correspondence between patterns
     in the CS and patterns in reality.    (06)

  5. The word 'fact' applies directly to the patterns of reality
     and only indirectly to the patterns of the conceptual system.
     In case of discrepancy, the CS must be revised or replaced.    (07)

  6. It's conceivable that God has a "God's eye" conceptual system
     that is perfectly adequate for expressing every possible fact.
     But every CS we mortals construct is at best an approximation
     to some limited aspects of such a system.    (08)

> EE [Extreme Empiricism] denies ontological realism (particles have
> properties which exist prior to the measurement) which has the effect
> of bringing in a great deal more metaphysics than EE was supposed to
> shave away. I mean the marriage of e.g. three-valued logic, extreme
> formalism, and the transcendental many-worlds interpretation in the
> interpretation of quantum theory.    (09)

I agree.  But this point is compatible with the above six principles.
Three different conceptual systems are involved, each of which assumes
a correspondence theory of truth, but each one has different methods
for determining the truth values of statements in that CS:    (010)

  1. A particle-based ontology makes accurate measurements for most
     phenomena observable with our unaided senses.  But it breaks down
     on the details of wave-like phenomena or very tiny phenomena.    (011)

  2. A wave-based ontology makes accurate measurements for many kinds
     of phenomena for which #1 breaks down, but it breaks down for a
     different set of phenomena.    (012)

  3. An ontology based on certain kinds of differential equations makes
     more accurate predictions on a broader range of phenomena than #1
     or #2, but its statements have only an approximate translation to
     statements based on #1 or #2.  And there are other phenomena stated
     in other versions of physics (e.g. gravity) on which it breaks down.    (013)

All the other puzzles cited in this thread can be analyzed as examples
of the breakdown of conceptual systems at extremes for which their
ontologies and methododologies are inadequate.    (014)

> The statement that [Schroedinger's] cat was dead 30 minutes before
> you opened the box is problematic. The same maybe also holds for more
> common situations like a stroke or heart attack where the exact timing
> could depend on quantum effects.    (015)

These are more examples of statements made in conflicting conceptual
systems pushed to extremes for which their methods are inadequate.    (016)

> That reminds me a poem "Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe
> http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html    (017)

Thanks for quoting the full poem.  In this case, the six blind men
have compatible ontologies, but their methods of perception and
interpretation are inadequate.    (018)

> If "The earth revolves around the sun." is a fact, then facts are
> at best models of reality. Models are only "true" when they pertain
> solely to abstract concepts such as mathematics or other fiat systems.    (019)

The models are part of the conceptual system, and the mathematics used
for any particular model are also part of the CS.    (020)

By definition, the facts are aspects of reality that are independent
of any or all conceptual systems.  When we encounter discrepancies,
we need to revise our CS -- that includes the models, the ontology,
and the choice of mathematics used to reason about them.    (021)

> It may be less misleading to say the earth wanders around the sun.
> Saying 'revolves' may be interpreted as a repeated trajectory.    (022)

Yes.  The words are tied to the conceptual system.  Choosing more
appropriate words is an important step toward a more adequate CS.    (023)

> And in fact it is the FALSITY of the fact as postulated above, for other
> solar systems, that permits the Doppler-based detection of exo-planets!    (024)

By definition, a fact cannot be false.  But a statement is always
relative to some conceptual system that may be adequate for stating
some facts for some purpose.  But no CS can ever be adequate for
all of reality for all purposes for all people for all time.    (025)

> This is about the third time I have seen this forum engage relativists
> vs. those who believe that truth is a meaningful concept, independent
> from belief.    (026)

A good way to resolve the conflicts is to reserve the word 'fact'
for the intended aspect of reality.  When anybody makes any claim
about facts, it's essential to ask what CS they use to state them.    (027)

John    (028)

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