>MW> It strikes me that we should be able to allow what turns
> > out to be common to float to the top, rather than have to
> > decide what it is at the outset. At lower levels this will
> > even be an important capability for a lattice of theories.
> > So I support a minimalist start.
>I agree. The only question is how minimal. Zero is certainly
>a good place to start, but that gives us very little to work
>with. Another possibility is to start with just those features
>that are common to every proposal, including any and every
>reasonable system in the published literature.
>JS> The decisions should be based on fundamental principles
> > of logic, linguistics, physics, and philosophy together with
> > considerations of the accumulated wisdom by the software
> > development community over the past fifty years.
>BS> But these decisions are your decisions. Each of us can point
> > to similar stacks of accumulated wisdom.
>JS> I should have emphasized the word *community*. All of us have
>our own pet theories, which should be accommodated as optional
>modules. As Matthew said, "what turns out to be common" should
>"float to the top" as more and more members of the community
>choose to use them and demonstrate by their choices which ones
>are the most useful.
>JS> And I want to emphasize that putting something into an optional
>module does not in any way disparage it. I would put all of
>Newtonian mechanics, Einsteinian relativity, and quantum
>mechanics into optional modules -- for the simple reason that
>all of them are reasonable choices for some problems, but their
>conjunction is inconsistent.
>BS> And my proposal is to find the highest common factor in all
> > of the sensible solutions, and to put that in the core.
>JS> If your term "highest common factor" means the supremum of all
>the "sensible solutions" in the lattice -- i.e., the most
>specific common generalization -- then I think we agree. (01)
The problem is that as soon as anyone puts forward anything to rise
to the top, or to be part of the supremum, or whatever we call it,
you will shoot it down by pointing that it is not consistent with,
say, Quantum Mechnics. I submit that, given the rather limited goals
of ONTAC-WG, consistency with Quantum Mechanics is not a sensible
constraint. Indeed given that Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of
General Relativity are inconsistent with each other, even the axiom
according to which Something Exists begins to look as if it cannot be
fitted into the coherent whole which John is fighting for. (02)
I also submit that, given the need to acquire users of whatever
results from our work, most of whom will not be specialists in
ontology, the need to be consistent with a four-dimensionalist
ontology according to which there are no dogs but only doggy
processes, is not a sensible constraint.
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