[FOM] Misuse of standard terminology

Carl Hewitt hewitt at concurrency.biz
Fri Aug 30 17:03:57 EDT 2013

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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