Ordinary Language Inference: Preserving and Creating Truth

eJournal: uffmm.org

ISSN 2567-6458, 19.August 2022 – 19 August 2022
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de


This text is part of the subject COMMON SCIENCE as Sustainable Applied Empirical Theory, besides ENGINEERING, in a SOCIETY. It is a preliminary version, which is intended to become part of a book.

Ordinary Language Inference: Preserving and Creating Truth

Because ordinary language is by construction the indispensable meta-language of every kind of a formal logical system it is clear that every kind of formal logic inference can be reproduced in ordinary language.

Thus we can easily reproduce a preserving inference in ordinary language like the following:

Example 4: It is known that all members of the country club are voting for the political party A. Then you hear, that Bill is a member of this country club. Then you — spontaneously — can infer, that Bill is voting for the political party A too.

In predicate logic you could write this as follows:


Replacing: (x/Bill)




Besides this truth-preserving inference we can observe in ordinary language usage different cases.

Example 5: Susan plans to go to Chicago (this is a ‘goal’). Actually she is in New York (this is a ‘given situation’). Now she thinks how to ‘realize her plan’. Either she ‘remembers’ by her memory that there are options like going by car, by train or by airplane, or she ask her colleagues in the office, what they can propose. Whatever she will do after ‘researching possibilities’ there will be some ‘outcome’: either no option or some options. Let us assume she ‘learned’, that there exists the option ‘going by train’ and by ‘personal reasons’ she decided to take this option ‘going by train’. Then we have the following kind of ordinary language inference:

Goal: I want to got to Chicago

Given: I am in New York

Learned Knowledge: You can go by train (and possibly other options)

Applying preferences: She has opted for the possibility ‘going by train’

Outcome: She goes by train from New York to Chicago.

This simple example shows interesting differences compared to the formal inferences. Usually you will not start with a given knowledge but with some ‘need to act’ (which can function as a ‘goal’). This goal will be related to the ‘given situation’ which determines conditions which have to be considered as ‘constraints’ for a possible solution. Having this — a goal and given constraints — you have to ‘explore’ what you know: either something which you can ‘remember’ or you can get by ‘communication with others’ or you have to start an ‘investigation’ of given data-bases or you have to make your own ‘experiments’. Thus the ‘given knowledge’ is a dynamic structure which has to be ‘determined on demand’.

In the case with the country club you had some knowledge ‘at hand’ and this induced some inference.

In the case with the ‘idea to go somewhere’ you had to clarify your constraints and to ‘activate’ ‘helpful knowledge’.

This ‘activation process’ can be ‘conservative’ by taking what you know already’ or it is to some degree ‘dynamic’ and ‘creative’ because you have to start a ‘process’ of ‘finding appropriate knowledge’. ‘Appropriate knowledge’ is knowledge which could be a ‘practical solution’ and which is ‘in agreement with your personal preferences’. Thus such a ‘knowledge creating process’ is a ‘process in everyday life’, which can not simply be ‘encoded’ in a formal inference only. In the full case we have a process with several participating actors (often thousands or several thousands or even more), which are communicating and thereby cooperating in complex patterns, whose ‘result’ can be some ordinary language expressions, but the ‘meaning’ of these language expressions is ‘encoded by the creating process as a whole’! Therefore the resulting expressions — as ordinary language expressions or as formal logic expressions — are rather secondary: they ‘live’ from the fact, that the acting actors are dealing dynamically with meaning structures which are ‘receiving’ ‘their life’ from this whole process.

— draft version —