[pcp-discuss:] Comments please: beta release of paper on the purpose of formal systems

From: Bruce Edmonds (b.edmonds@MMU.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Sep 28 2000 - 12:15:39 BST

  • Next message: PRof. Gary Boyd: "Re: [pcp-discuss:] Comments please: beta release of paper on the purpose of formal systems"

    Please can I have comments upon the following paper?

           The Purpose and Place of Formal Systems in the
                     Development of Science

    CPM Report No.: 00-75
    By: Bruce Edmonds
    Date: 28th Septmeber 2000


    The aim of this paper is to re-emphasise that the purpose of formal
    systems is to provide something to map into and to stem the tide of
    unjustified formal systems. I start by arguing that expressiveness
    is not a sufficient justification for a new formal system but that it
    be justified on pragmatic grounds. I then deal with a possible
    objection as might be raised by a pure mathematician and after that to
    the objection that theory can be later used by more specific models. I
    go on to compare two different methods of developing new formal
    systems: by a priori principles and intuitions; and by post hoc
    generalisation from data and examples. I briefly describe the
    phenomena of “social embedding” and use it to explain the social
    processes that underpin “normal” and “revolutionary” science. This
    suggests social grounds for the popularity of normal science. I
    characterise the “foundational” and “empirical” approaches to the use
    of formal systems and situate these with respect to “normal” and
    “revolutionary” modes of science. I suggest that successful sciences
    (in the sense of developing relevant mappings to formal systems) bare
    either more tolerant of revolutionary ideas or this tolerance is part of
    the reason they are successful. I finish by enumerating a number of
    ‘tell-tale’ signs that a paper is presenting an unjustified formal
    Keywords: formal systems, modelling, science, empirical grounding, a
    priori, social embeddedness, simplicity, revolutions, Kuhn, Newton,
    constructivism, realism, development, philosophy of science
    Accessible at:

    Thank you.

    Bruce Edmonds,
    Centre for Policy Modelling,
    Manchester Metropolitan University, Aytoun Bldg.,
    Aytoun St., Manchester, M1 3GH. UK.
    Tel: +44 161 247 6479 Fax: +44 161 247 6802
    Posting to pcp-discuss@lanl.gov from Bruce Edmonds <b.edmonds@mmu.ac.uk>

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