[FOM] Misuse of standard terminology

T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk
Fri Aug 30 17:54:42 EDT 2013

Well, yes. In these cases the real question is whether or not the new 
gadget being proffered is actually the correct 
elucidation/explication/what-have-you of the ``status quo paradigm''. This 
question can be very hard to answer. Cases where the new gadget is 
in-the-appropriate-sense continuous with the old are typically cases where 
there has been gradual revision going on in step with the march of science: 
my favourite example is the chemists' concept of *acid*. Dialethism, with 
its invitation - after more than 2000 years of everyone being happy with 
the law of noncontradiction - to consider a new polarity distinct from 
true/false seems to me to be as clear an illustration of the other 
situation as one could wish. Nothing wrong with that of course, - new 
polarity might be a Jolly Good Thing - but there is nothing to be gained by 
representing it as the correct unpacking of the old. Nothing beyond a sales 
pitch, that is.

On Aug 30 2013, Carl Hewitt wrote:

> Defenders of a status quo paradigm have often accused proponents of new 
> paradigms of “misuse of standard terminology with fixed meanings going 
> back decades or even centuries or even longer.” But proponents of the 
> new paradigms often did not see any good reasons to invent difficult to 
> understand circumlocutions simply because new usage made defenders of the 
> old paradigms uncomfortable. For example, when physicists first wrote of 
> “probabilistic causality” some older very prominent physicists were 
> outraged.
>From: Harvey Friedman
>Sent: Wednesday, August 28
> The misuse of standard terminology with fixed meanings going back decades 
> or even centuries or even longer, is an interesting phenomena. …
>A clear cut case is this:
> "Absorption (P∧(Q∨P) =P) is not considered to be a standard Boolean 
> equivalence. And, of course, P does not in general infer Q∨P, which is 
> used in C. I. Lewis' proof. See http://arxiv.org/abs/0812.4852 "
> Obviously (P and (Q or P)) implies P considered by everybody to be a 
> standard Boolean equivalence, and obviously from P everybody can infer Q 
> or P. These are the standard uses of the notions that go back for 
> thousands of years… What is completely illegitimate is to usurp the 
> usual symbols and terminology. The symbols and terminology must be 
> altered in order to avoid any possible confusion. E.g., one might use 
> and*, or*, ifthen*, iff*, Boolean equivalence*, to avoid confusion.
> There is a great need and huge requirement to reason effectively about 
> pervasively inconsistent large software systems. It is unlikely, that you 
> will be able to persuade people to use circumlocutions like “or*” or 
> “Boolean equivalence*” to avoid confusion with usage that is known 
> only to a few mathematicians. The classical tail should not wag the 
> Inconsistency Robust dog :-)
> Instead, the new Inconsistency Robust paradigm needs to be integrated 
> with the classical paradigm. Absorption (P∧(Q∨P) =P) will be called a 
> “classical Boolean equivalence”. And P|-Q∨P will be called a 
> “classical inference” (which has been prima fasciae difficult to 
> motivate). Of course, the classical paradigm will remain useful for 
> mathematical theories. But these mathematical theories play a relatively 
> small background role in the reasoning of practical pervasively 
> inconsistent theories of large software systems.

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