Argumentation and Science

The history of science includes continuous changes to the meanings of concepts, often fundamental to our understanding of the universe, over time.  By representing and storing both contemporary and historical scientific knowledge, mechanical reasoners can better infer the very processes of science. Mechanical reasoners can devise theories and models, identify when anomalous data suggest formulating new theories and models, and formulate questions to determine which of several commensurate theories or models best describe a universe.

A repository of contemporary and historical scientific knowledge, in a machine-readable format, can enhance both science education and the development of such mechanical reasoning artifacts.

Philosophy of science topics include: confirmation holism, coherentism, contextualism, conventionalism, deductive-nomological model, determinism, empiricism, fallibilism, foundationalism, hypothetico-deductive model, infinitism, instrumentalism, positivism, pragmatism, rationalism, received view of theories, reductionism, semantic view of theories, scientific realism, scientism, scientific anti-realism, skepticism, uniformitarianism, vitalism, metaphysics.

The semantic view of theories indicates models as relating to theories.  Each concept’s or theory’s definition includes, beyond semantics, logic and mathematics, its inclusion in a set of models.  Each model contains a set of interoperating concepts and theories.

Semantic holism describes that the meaning of concepts may arise from their relationships within models.  Incommensurability of meaning can arise when argument participants use language from different models.

As models can be represented by means of distributed field- or topic-specific files or resources, such files or resources can be composed and combined algebraically.  Combinations of such files and resources can describe schools of thought applicable to regions at instants.  Individual scientists can be described as having been utilizing various models or combinations of models at various points in time.

Concepts within and between models can be related as can entire models, with such relationships resulting from scientific processes including investigation and argumentation.  Machine-utilizable resources including the details of such historical scientific processes will be tremendously advantageous.

The matter can be phrased as seeking a record of the repairs made to the ship of scientific knowledge, using Neurath‘s simile indicating that “we are like sailors who must rebuild their ship on the open sea, without ever being able to dismantle it in dry dock and reconstruct it from the best components.”

Argumentation theory, which can be phrased as an alternative to both absolutism and relativism, can explain the piecemeal processes over the course of the history of science.  With participants arguing about a main topic or matter, while making use of data resulting from scientific investigation, the substantiation of each claim, and otherwise communication, makes use of other concepts.  The concepts used thusly, that are not objected to by participants, can be phrased as having either been accepted, useful or convenient to the participants of argumentation, at least for the purposes of argumentation, at that instant, while the argumentation focused on addressing the main topic or matter.

Argumentation theory and scientific reasoning interrelate in other interesting ways.  For example, in the context of the hypothetico-deductive model, there is the problem of induction, and, in argumentation theory, there is the topic of the accrual of arguments.

A robust means of representing argumentation, including scientific argumentation, should include a means of indicating which models were in use by which participants, perhaps to the granularity of utterances, so as to enhance the accurate interpretation of sentences.  Many formalisms of argumentation take it for granted that the semantics of arguments are available; knowledge representation formats that include natural language can include features to enhance the correct interpretation of sentences.

Representing scientific argumentation builds upon the previous topic of argumentation and mathematics while including more linguistic premises and a dynamic set of ontologies with each perhaps composed of multiple model components.

Robust resources for contemporary and historical scientific knowledge, resulting from described processes of investigation and argumentation, can provide numerous advantages including to science education, while enhancing the development of advanced scientific instrumentation.


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