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Creating An Exact Science

  1. Jan 1, 2007 #1
    May you have a fun 2007 DD. I find your request to be of interest, so I would like to move forward, one small step at a time, with a new thread on this topic. This then will require that you do not "over answer" each step DD :approve:

    Step #1. We take this statement and first define operational terms:

    ...examine philosophy from the perspective of creating an exact science...
    Define "examine philosophy", "create", "exact science":

    I put the above statement in bold and red because we will often in the future need to return to it to ground our discussion--keep us on track.

    So, to move forward with Step #1: please define these terms DD (so that we see how these definitions relate to your discovery--but please, no talk about your discovery yet, just three definitions). Once we are completed with Step #1 via forum feedback and discussion, we will move to Step #2--finding logical solution(s) of how to "create an exact science".
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2007 #2
    I am willing to go with any definition for “examine philosophy” acceptable to the general public (exactly what is meant by this term is not at all an important issue). Likewise for “create”. These terms are in common usage throughout the world and no specific constraint was intended. “Exact science” is, on the other hand, a rather specific concept and one close to my heart. Wikipedia begins its definition of exact science with the statement that the term “refers to fields of study that admit especially precise predictions and rigorous methods of testing hypotheses…”. I am of the opinion that they have the horse on the wrong side of the cart here. It seems to me that they bring up the consequences of the science being exact, not what actually makes the science exact.

    What makes a science exact is that acceptable assertions within the field are exact: that these assertions are specific and well defined, that is, only precise statements are acceptable. This is an issue very difficult to get across to people not involved in exact work (when they hear the word “exact” they tend to think of Spock from Star Trek). When I was teaching (many many years ago) one of the examples I often gave was the fact that no one familiar with mathematics would accept 3141592… as an expression for pie (the missing decimal point is a deadly omission). Likewise, in physics, to state that the distance between two points was 3.28 feet is just as bad (no one has ever made such a measurement): in any “exact” measurement, one must include an estimate of the error. That estimate is as important to a measurement as the decimal point is to mathematics.

    Now little is made of that fact (most people tend to be sloppy, even scientists); however, in an exact science, a little pressure will result in those scientists expressing their ideas in a more exact manner. Vague or easily misunderstood expressions are specifically unacceptable. The nice thing about exact statements is that they can be examined and judged. Now exactness is not an absolute (like a decimal point or error margins), exactness is a variable quality and the exactness of a specific statement may be quite different from another supposed “exact” statement. I would say that exactness is a measure of the opportunity for misinterpretation of the information being expressed by the statement. An exact science is one which does not allow statements which can be misinterpreted. Poetry is not an exact science and physics is not an exact science when you get down to the nitty gritty; however, it is far more exact than many other “sciences”. Regarding Spock and “exact statements”, “I don’t know” could be a very exact statement!
    I hate to jump ahead but all one has to do is only allow exact statements and “existence exists” is not an exact statement as it presumes the meanings of “existence” and “exists” are understood which is clearly false as their meanings were the subject under discussion.

    There is one other issue which must be understood: discussing exact statements (to determine the extent of that exactness) is not an exact science so don’t confuse that discussion with the intended collection of “exact statements”.

    I tried to be exact in that presentation. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    Have fun -- Dick
  4. Jan 1, 2007 #3
    first all disciplines should be better understood then they are now to understand "exactness" and for that matter an "exact science".
  5. Jan 1, 2007 #4
    Thank you Doctordick, I am very happy to see that you want to proceed. Truly my goal here is to understand your philosophy about how to create an exact science--I'll let others decide if the question has any importance to them.

    So, again, let us restate the thread objective, to:
    ...examine philosophy from the perspective of creating an exact science...

    You are clear in your initial post that the only term we need to define in our thread objective is the term "exact science". So, I searched your post for your definition, and find two comments that help:

    Now, you also make comments about other terms "exactness", "exact measurement", "exact statements"--but these are for the future--here at Step#1 we must limit discussion to "exact science".

    So, from the above here is a proposed definition (I will put any definitions in blue):

    Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.

    OK, I will wait for any further discussion from you, Doctordick, and any other forum readers, then we move on to Step#2.
  6. Jan 2, 2007 #5
    Well, I have no complaint with that at all.

    I await further posts -- Dick
  7. Jan 2, 2007 #6

    Exactness is in the eyes of the designer. How many witnesses/results does it take to decide if a science is exact or not? One could have the same 100,000 results from an experiment that is part of the "exact science" and that is the product of the exact science. But the 100,001st result is the opposite result to the first 100,000. One may have only done 96,001 experiments and never realize that the science behind the experiment is not exact because you didn't do experiment #100,001. How exact is exact?
  8. Jan 2, 2007 #7
    There is no exact science because we as a human species do not know everything there is to know for any given discipline. In fact, the more we know, the more we don't know and more questions get asked. So how can any discipline be exact?
  9. Jan 2, 2007 #8
    To nannoh and ptalar: I will let DoctorDick respond to your comments, but from his post #2, it is clear that in his philosophy the term "exact", when it is combined with "science" is NOT a knowledge condition without error--two statements from post #2 make this point:
    Thus it is my reading of DoctorDick that an "exact science" is knowledge with error, and that the error can be mathematically quantified, and this information can then be used to advantage to make predictions. But I will stop here and let DoctorDick respond, and see if we get any additional comments on his accepted "definition of exact science" :
    Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2007
  10. Jan 3, 2007 #9
    My opinion is that neither nannoh nor ptalar have any experience with the nature of an "exact science" as understood by a modern scientist nor do they have any comprehension of what is being discussed on this thread. I see no reason to pay any attention at all to their comments. :yuck:

    If others want to join in the mock battle they seem intent on opening, have a ball; it's no skin off my nose.

    Have fun -- Dick
  11. Jan 3, 2007 #10
    To DoctorDick. It looks like it is time to proceed. To review, in Step#1 we presented the thread objective that you put forth to...
    ...examine philosophy from the perspective of creating an exact science...
    and we concluded that we only need a single definition to begin the process...
    Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.

    However, before we move on, I have a few points that I need to be very clear about.

    1. Clearly in your philosophy any "exact science" (say science X) has measurement with error--is this not correct ? Thus an exact science must always yield uncertain (error present) knowledge--correct ?

    2. Not so clear to me, would any "exact science" (science X) have only one "interpretation" of the "acceptable assertions" that cannot be misinterpreted to yield uncertain knowledge, or would multiple such interpretations be possible ?

    After you kindly provide answers to these questions we can move on to Step#2, your design process of how to create an "exact science".
  12. Jan 4, 2007 #11
    Ignore this rather waffling definition of what you are trying to exact in this thread and have fun with it:wink: :


    http://www.answers.com/exact%20science [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  13. Jan 4, 2007 #12
    Thank you Nannoh for this contribution. I was not aware of the term "exact science" until I read the OP contribution from DoctorDick where he asked if anyone wanted to discuss how to create an exact science. From what I can gather from the Wiki post you provide above, there is no recognized standard definition in philosophy or science or mathematics of the term "exact science". Also, using mathematics alone does not insure the creation of an "exact science", if the mathematical computation is based on "false premise". This is logical thus true.

    But then, this seems to increase relevancy of this thread topic since DoctorDick will shortly inform how to creat an "exact science" based on the definition he has approved:
    Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.--but we will have to hold him to the logical constraint that his design process must not start from "false premise(s)"--but I am sure he will agree to this.

    I must wait for DoctorDick to catch up with the thread discussion.
  14. Jan 5, 2007 #13
    I sort of felt I was pretty well caught up. I think the discussion with AnssiH is more directed towards understanding “exact science” than is this thread to date.
    Hi Spock! Exactness, when it refers to science, has nothing to do with numerical precision and everything to do with “correctness”.
    This has to do with the difference between facts and opinions. The practitioners of an exact science most definitely would agree as to what were facts and what were opinions (at least with regard to the foundations of their science). Now, the correctness of facts is of course an opinion but there are certainly significant differences. If you would bet your life on a conclusion rationally deduced from a given statement, I would hold that you believed that statement to be a fact.

    Now, as far as misinterpretation goes, it is of no significance if all the conclusions are the same: i.e. two totally different interpretation of what is going on can be analog models of one another. That is, your world view may be a totally different analog of what I think it is, but that is an issue far down the line from a foundation of ontology and really has no place here.

    Have fun -- Dick
  15. Jan 5, 2007 #14
    Now I know why you call yourself DoctorDick
  16. Jan 5, 2007 #15
    Its how we interpret and translate facts in nature that requires "correctness" among more than one person or more than one opinion.

    Here's a guide to creating your first ontology.


    Or just ignore this.:wink:
  17. Jan 5, 2007 #16
    From Post #2:
    From Post#13
    From Post#2
    I think it important to keep these points in mind about "exact" and "exactness" as we proceed.

    Thank you for your reference to another thread where you also discuss the concept of "exact science". I hope you will continue with this thread because I do not see on this other thread where you give the design blueprint of how a scientist should proceed to create and "exact science".

    DoctorDick, it is now time for you to present your design blueprint of "how to create an exact science", the prime objective of this thread discussion, using this definition:Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.. After your post the thread will be open for questions and discussion.
  18. Jan 17, 2007 #17
    in my opinion quine comes pretty close to the desired attributes. so does wittgenstein. if you want more clarity and exactness of thought you propably won't find it in humans :)
  19. Jan 20, 2007 #18
    Thread update: We wait patiently for Doctordick to provide his design blueprint of "how to create an exact science", otherwise I will consider the thread closed at this point in the discussion. I am not being flip, I have no idea how to create an exact science using this definition claimed by Doctordick as valid: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.
  20. Jan 20, 2007 #19
    Would you please summarize Quine's and/or Wittgenstein's position(s) on exactly what can clearly be said in language? I suspect that you are correct in that these two thinkers have probably gotten as close to an understanding of how thought can be expressed in language as anyone has who has ever tried to describe it.

    While we are waiting for Dick's answer to Rade's question, I'll toss in my two cents worth. I have only a fleeting understanding of Wittgenstein's attitude toward the question, and even less of Quine's, and I am no expert in anything in my own right, but I have tried to understand Dick's work, and I have a modest education in mathematics so two cents is probably about right as an estimate of what these opinions are worth. Here goes anyway.

    I think Wittgenstein might have agreed that no word, or language construction, has any intrinsic meaning; that all meaning is a complex result of myriad instances of language usage among a communicating and interacting population of people; that definitions are an attempt to reduce ambiguity by specific denotation in other terms presumed to be less ambiguous than the defined term; and that the most rigorous examples of definition occur in the communities of mathematicians and logicians in their formal work.

    I think Dick would agree that mathematical formalism offers the least ambiguous language we have available to us in which to express our ideas. This is primarily a result of the cardinal rule in mathematics that no statement is accepted into the body of a formal mathematical system which is not consistent with all other statements in that system. In particular, mathematics is much better than English in this respect.

    So, I suspect that when Dick outlines his "Design Blueprint for Creating an Exact Science", he will advocate using mathematics almost exclusively, and that the blueprint will pretty much follow the lines of his theorem development which can be found in his work today. What that theorem says is that regardless of what explanation you come up with to explain X, if that explanation is internally consistent, then the explanation will be consistent with, and can be interpreted as following or obeying, the known laws of physics. So an exact science would amount to using Dick's Theorem to deduce extensions or refinements to the known laws of physics, and then use these extensions and refinements to suggest experiments which could be used to support belief in the results.

    If the previous paragraph is wrong, I'll let Dick point out the errors and we can continue from there. But right or wrong, I would like to spend what remains of my two cents on some observations.

    Dick's theorem is derived in the system of Mathematical Analysis, AKA the Calculus of Real and Complex numbers. As we know from the history of Geometry, systems that were thought, literally for millennia, to be inescapably and indubitably true, may in fact be arbitrary. For example, Euclidean Geometry was thought to be absolutely true from the time of Euclid up almost until the 20th century. Now we know that there are non-Euclidean alternatives which have an equal standing in "truth" and yet are inconsistent with Euclidean Geometry. The question of which, if any, of these alternative geometries, is consistent with "reality", or "physical reality", or "space", or any other such notion, remains open. So, the basis of Dick's Theorem is similarly open to question.

    I maintain that it is possible to define and adopt a set of mathematical axioms, which I have called the Practical Number System (PNS), and which does not contain the Real numbers, but which nonetheless contains a sufficient, finite, set of rational numbers such that all important theorems of Mathematical Analysis needed to make any possible measurement of anything accessible to experiment can be proved in the PNS.

    Thus, I believe that Dick's Theorem can also be proved in the PNS.

    The important difference between PNS and classical Mathematical Analysis, is that in PNS there are no infinities, and no continuity. PNS is grainy rather than smooth; finite rather than infinite.

    Since we don't really know whether "reality" is finite or infinite, or whether it is smooth or grainy, we don't really know which mathematical system would be better suited to express statements about it. There are many indications that reality is discrete and grainy (i.e. it seems to be quantized) and there is no evidence for anything real to be infinite. In fact the appearance of infinities in the mathematics confounds interpretations of the theories expressed in that mathematics. (Physicists win Nobel prizes for figuring out how to eliminate some of these infinities.)

    So, to Dick I would say, "Don't worry about this problem, because as I have said, your theorem holds in PNS so your result would apply equally well in a finite grainy world as it would in an infinite continuous world. You have said as much yourself many times."

    But, wait....there's more. The very foundations of mathematics are also questionable. As we have learned from Euclid's legacy, we can't be sure of the absolute truth of any proposed axiom on which we might base our mathematical system. Here we enter the murky world of Aristotle, Quine, Wittgenstein, Whitehead, and Russell. Can we perhaps build our mathematical system on the basis of logic alone? Was Aristotle correct in thinking that there are rules of logic that are indubitable and trustworthy? With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the rules of logic are about as arbitrary as the axioms of mathematics. And, as Whitehead and Russell discovered to their dismay, foundations laid on logic might as well have been laid on quicksand.

    So it seems to me that the problem comes down to the question of whether we can say anything trustworthy in language at all. And, so, I will repeat my request to Paradigma11, to sketch out for us what Quine and Wittgenstein had to say on this question. If those two can't help us find some solid footing, then even this attempt at developing an Exact Science may be just another "mock battle".

    Warm regards,

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2007
  21. Jan 21, 2007 #20
    Thank you Paul. I agree words can confuse (your post was very wordy), so let us attempt in the future to use as few words as possible as we move forward in this thread topic. I have always been greatly impressed how few words god used (in Genesis) to explain the design blueprint for creation of a very complex system--man: (A) dust of earth + (B) breath of god = (C) man. How refreshing, perhaps we can say beautiful mathematics if such is possible ! But of course god was silent on dynamics of the creation process--let us hope Doctordick corrects what we can call gods lapse on explanation of creation of man. So, let us keep in mind what is being created on this thread and use as few words as possible to explain the design blueprint for an exact science defined as: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted

    Excellent !--let us hope so
  22. Jan 21, 2007 #21
    The irony is simply too much. When DoctorDick is asked to provide "An Explanation" he bails out. Remember - "An explanation is the most basic concept". If he does resurface please ask him for an example of how he can take any philosophical question and turn it into a hard science.
  23. Jan 21, 2007 #22
    It sounds like you are not creating a science as much as a language. For the purpose of discussing topics that are relevant to humans, mathematics may not be the best fit. The language must still have mathematical precision that allows everyone with the same premises to reach the same conclusions.

    Qualities such as "specific", "well defined", "precise" and "unambiguous" are found in computer languages. This may be a more approachable angle with one immediate benefit: you could feed inputs directly into a computer. Just my 2 bits.
  24. Jan 21, 2007 #23
    Good suggestion.
  25. Jan 26, 2007 #24
    That was very well put Paul. The issue is very much one of vagueness and ambiguity. Some people like vagueness and ambiguity as it allows them to appear rational while not taking the trouble to be entirely logical. One of the most important aspects of conversation in an exact science is the constraint that statements are to be, "specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted" and, yes, I would say that mathematical formalism offers the least ambiguous language we have available to us. However, when it comes to defining terms, English is a very useful tool. The fact that English is fundamentally vague and ambiguous can be, to a great extent, avoided by operating under the constraint that any interpretation which is not "specific, well defined and precise" is simply disallowed. If the listener (the interpreter) can not conceive of an interpretation which is in accordance with that constraint, he should ask for clarification (in that case, either the statement is clearly not "specific, well defined and precise" or the listener is misinterpreting something and, either way, the issue is can be settled. However, if the listener fails to apply this constraint, the meanings of English words are far to extensive to allow exact communication. A good example that I get a kick out of is the fact that the US constitution specifically allows the citizens the right to "bare arms". Now, by the rules of English that could certainly be interpreted as a right to wear shirts without sleeves; however, any rational person would consider such an interpretation to be silly and totally beside the point (in fact, the existence of such misinterpretations is one of the bulwarks of humor).

    My problem with Rade is that he has failed to convince me that he has any interest in what I am talking about. From his responses, I get the impression he would prefer misinterpretation to giving thought to what I say. But what really pushed me to cease posting on his thread was his comment about my presenting a "design blueprint" as I never proposed to do any such thing:
    the concept is entirely something Rade has created in his own head and has absolutely nothing to do with the existence of an "exact science". What makes a science exact is that acceptable assertions within the field are exact: i.e., these assertions are specific and well defined, that is, only precise statements are acceptable. The issue within philosophy is that "philosophers" do not believe any worthwhile aspects of philosophy can be so expressed. Essentially, their position with regard to such a constraint is that, if one is to honestly honor that constraint, no intelligent person has anything to say. This I deny!
    Not true; what my "theorem" does is provide one with a solid foundation for any explanation of anything. A foundation which makes no assumptions what so ever. What is astonishing about the deduction is that practically all of modern physics falls out as necessary in much the same way as the orbits of the planets fell out naturally from Newton's relationships.
    The most important issue I make use of is the definition of a derivative. The rest of the work relies only on the lack of ambiguity in specific mathematical procedures.
    And, I hold that it makes no difference how arbitrary the definition of a derivative is, the definition provides a very valuable procedure for making sense of information (the object of our attempts to understand things).
    And my comment is "so what!" It makes no difference if our explanation is based on quicksand; if it works, it works and that is all that is important. That is why I want to start with an undefined ontology: any explanation of anything must begin from an originally undefined ontology and what I am prepared to show any reasonable person is a procedure for creating a valid world view from an undefined ontology. The problem is, no one has any comprehension of working with an unknown ontology. (They all want it defined.)
    Just throw out any statement which violates that rule!
    Which means literally, cast out any assertion which fails to fulfill the rule. It seems to me that there is no other specific, precise and well defined interpretation of that statement.
    Personally, I am of the opinion that my insights would be very applicable to the AI interests of the computing industry; but, to date, they have been as hard to reach as the physics community. But, if you guys take the trouble to understand what I am saying, someone might be able to make good use of it.

    But meanwhile, as to that philosophical refusal to recognize the possibility of exact statements in the field of philosophy, let me make three statements which I believe are pretty close to being exact. For those of you who cannot comprehend an interpretation which makes these statements exact, let me know your personal interpretation and I will do my best to provide additional constraints. Our purpose, in trying to undertake an exact examination of ontology, is to examine the possible constraints on a valid ontology while leaving the definition of that ontology totally open.

    There are at least three things which I think I can correctly say about that unknown "valid ontology" I would like to talk about. First, it fulfills the definition of "a set"; the Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia says that "a set" can be thought of as any collection of distinct things considered as a whole. Those things can be anything, from objects, thoughts, ideas, concepts ..., so one certainly cannot deny the usefulness of the label. Second, any reasonable understanding of "the universe" must be based in some way upon that "valid ontology"; that is no more than saying that any reasonable understanding of the universe should be based on the universe (at least partially if that understanding is not to be a total fabrication). And finally, it is quite reasonable to presume there are elements of that "valid ontology" of which we are ignorant and which would most probably be destructive to our most well thought out speculative edifices.

    Can I obtain acceptance of those three simple statements as "specific, well defined and precise"?

    Have fun guys! If you accept those statements as "exact" statements, I will lead you down a golden path -- Dick
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007
  26. Jan 29, 2007 #25
    Well, we have a response from Doctordick after a long laspe. To summarize the events so far in this thread we have these facts:

    The thread starts with this proposal by Doctordick:

    We moved forward quickly as Doctordick agreed to a definition of the concept "exact science" presented by Rade:

    Originally Posted by Rade: Definition #1: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.
    Well, I have no complaint with that at all. I await further posts -- Dick

    After a few posts by others and myself asking for clarification of a few points, and clarification of terms by Doctordick provided, we reached this very important clarifying statement:

    [Note by Rade: well, Doctordick sure is clear and precise in his comment here, so, let us all (especially me it would seem) keep in mind that Doctodick (1) never proposed on this thread to "present a design blueprint" for the concept "exact science" and of greater importance (2) that "design blueprint" has "absolutely nothing to do with existence of an "exact science".

    Then, this statement follows directly:

    Thus, recalling the Definition #1 above, we now have from Doctordick a new definition, which is fine with me, but it needs to be clear to the readers, thus:

    Thus, we have on this thread two definitions of the concept "exact science" being presented by Doctordick, which is very much OK, because, as we see from dictionary, "definitions" of concepts can be many and change over time. So, here are the time evolution definitions of the concept "exact science" presented by Doctordick:

    We next have this statement by Doctordick, with my hopeful clarifying comments in {}:

    Now, while an interesting comment in its own right, before we can discuss what Doctordick does deny about philosophers and what they do or not believe about any definition of "exact exact" science, first the concept "exact science" must be created.

    Next we read this sequence of statements by Doctordick, which, from the perspective of Doctordick, gets to the question about the issue of creation of an exact science...

    Originally Posted by Rade
    I have no idea how to create an exact science using this definition claimed by Doctordick as valid: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted.

    [Note to reader: we have here the first use by Doctordick of a new term called "rule"--and the rule is the definition of the concept "exact science".
    So, for future thread discussion, let ES = exact science, R = the definition rule of ES, S = a statement that does not violate rule, and S' a statement that does violate the rule].

    Originally Posted by Rade
    So, let us keep in mind what is being created on this thread and use as few words as possible to explain the design blueprint for an exact science defined as: Exact Science is a field of study where acceptable assertions are specific, well defined, and precise such that any statements cannot be misinterpreted

    So, it is time to take pause, and let readers respond and ask Doctordick any questions that they may have. If all feel satisfied with the course of events so far in this thread concerning the concept "exact science" as defined by Doctordick, we can move on to formal discussion of the OP #1 request by Doctordick:

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