COMMON SCIENCE as Sustainable Applied Empirical Theory, besides ENGINEERING, in a SOCIETY

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 19.Juni 2022 – 15.September 2022
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

This is work in progress:

  1. The whole text shows a dynamic, which induces many changes. Difficult to plan ‘in advance’.
  2. Perhaps, some time, it will look like a ‘book’, at least ‘for a moment’.

CONTEXT and INTRODUCTION

In a rather foundational paper about an idea, how one can generalize ‘systems engineering’ [*1] to the art of ‘theory engineering’ [1] a new conceptual framework has been outlined for a ‘sustainable applied empirical theory (SAET)’. Part of this new framework has been the idea that the classical recourse to groups of special experts (mostly ‘engineers’ in engineering) is too restrictive in the light of the new requirement of being sustainable: sustainability is primarily based on ‘diversity’ combined with the ‘ability to predict’ from this diversity probable future states which keep life alive. The aspect of diversity induces the challenge to see every citizen as a ‘natural expert’, because nobody can know in advance and from some non-existing absolut point of truth, which knowledge is really important. History shows that the ‘mainstream’ is usually to a large degree ‘biased’ [*1b].

With this assumption, that every citizen is a ‘natural expert’, science turns into a ‘general science’ where all citizens are ‘natural members’ of science. I will call this more general concept of science ‘sustainable citizen science (SCS)’ or ‘Citizen Science 2.0 (CS2)’. The important point here is that a sustainable citizen science is not necessarily an ‘arbitrary’ process. While the requirement of ‘diversity’ relates to possible contents, to possible ideas, to possible experiments, and the like, it follows from the other requirement of ‘predictability’/ of being able to make some useful ‘forecasts’, that the given knowledge has to be in a format, which allows in a transparent way the construction of some consequences, which ‘derive’ from the ‘given’ knowledge and enable some ‘new’ knowledge. This ability of forecasting has often been understood as the business of ‘logic’ providing an ‘inference concept’ given by ‘rules of deduction’ and a ‘practical pattern (on the meta level)’, which defines how these rules have to be applied to satisfy the inference concept. But, looking to real life, to everyday life or to modern engineering and economy, one can learn that ‘forecasting’ is a complex process including much more than only cognitive structures nicely fitting into some formulas. For this more realistic forecasting concept we will use here the wording ‘common logic’ and for the cognitive adventure where common logic is applied we will use the wording ‘common science’. ‘Common science’ is structurally not different from ‘usual science’, but it has a substantial wider scope and is using the whole of mankind as ‘experts’.

The following chapters/ sections try to illustrate this common science view by visiting different special views which all are only ‘parts of a whole’, a whole which we can ‘feel’ in every moment, but which we can not yet completely grasp with our theoretical concepts.

CONTENT

  1. Language (Main message: “The ordinary language is the ‘meta language’ to every special language. This can be used as a ‘hint’ to something really great: the mystery of the ‘self-creating’ power of the ordinary language which for most people is unknown although it happens every moment.”)
  2. Concrete Abstract Statements (Main message: “… you will probably detect, that nearly all words of a language are ‘abstract words’ activating ‘abstract meanings’. …If you cannot provide … ‘concrete situations’ the intended meaning of your abstract words will stay ‘unclear’: they can mean ‘nothing or all’, depending from the decoding of the hearer.”)
  3. True False Undefined (Main message: “… it reveals that ’empirical (observational) evidence’ is not necessarily an automatism: it presupposes appropriate meaning spaces embedded in sets of preferences, which are ‘observation friendly’.
  4. Beyond Now (Main message: “With the aid of … sequences revealing possible changes the NOW is turned into a ‘moment’ embedded in a ‘process’, which is becoming the more important reality. The NOW is something, but the PROCESS is more.“)
  5. Playing with the Future (Main message: “In this sense seems ‘language’ to be the master tool for every brain to mediate its dynamic meaning structures with symbolic fix points (= words, expressions) which as such do not change, but the meaning is ‘free to change’ in any direction. And this ‘built in ‘dynamics’ represents an ‘internal potential’ for uncountable many possible states, which could perhaps become ‘true’ in some ‘future state’. Thus ‘future’ can begin in these potentials, and thinking is the ‘playground’ for possible futures.(but see [18])”)
  6. Forecasting – Prediction: What? (This chapter explains the cognitive machinery behind forecasting/ predictions, how groups of human actors can elaborate shared descriptions, and how it is possible to start with sequences of singularities to built up a growing picture of the empirical world which appears as a radical infinite and indeterministic space. )
  7. !!! From here all the following chapters have to be re-written !!!
  8. THE LOGIC OF EVERYDAY THINKING. Lets try an Example (Will probably be re-written too)
  9. Boolean Logic (Explains what boolean logic is, how it enables the working of programmable machines, but that it is of nearly no help for the ‘heart’ of forecasting.)
  10. … more re-writing will probably happen …
  11. Everyday Language: German Example
  12. Everyday Language: English
  13. Natural Logic
  14. Predicate Logic
  15. True Statements
  16. Formal Logic Inference: Preserving Truth
  17. Ordinary Language Inference: Preserving and Creating Truth
  18. Hidden Ontologies: Cognitively Real and Empirically Real
  19. AN INFERENCE IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY A FORECAST
  20. EMPIRICAL THEORY
  21. Side Trip to Wikipedia
  22. SUSTAINABLE EMPIRICAL THEORY
  23. CITIZEN SCIENCE 2.0
  24. … ???

COMMENTS

wkp-en := Englisch Wikipedia

/* Often people argue against the usage of the wikipedia encyclopedia as not ‘scientific’ because the ‘content’ of an entry in this encyclopedia can ‘change’. This presupposes the ‘classical view’ of scientific texts to be ‘stable’, which presupposes further, that such a ‘stable text’ describes some ‘stable subject matter’. But this view of ‘steadiness’ as the major property of ‘true descriptions’ is in no correspondence with real scientific texts! The reality of empirical science — even as in some special disciplines like ‘physics’ — is ‘change’. Looking to Aristotle’s view of nature, to Galileo Galilei, to Newton, to Einstein and many others, you will not find a ‘single steady picture’ of nature and science, and physics is only a very simple strand of science compared to the live-sciences and many others. Thus wikipedia is a real scientific encyclopedia give you the breath of world knowledge with all its strengths and limits at once. For another, more general argument, see In Favour for Wikipedia */

[*1] Meaning operator ‘…’ : In this text (and in nearly all other texts of this author) the ‘inverted comma’ is used quite heavily. In everyday language this is not common. In some special languages (theory of formal languages or in programming languages or in meta-logic) the inverted comma is used in some special way. In this text, which is primarily a philosophical text, the inverted comma sign is used as a ‘meta-language operator’ to raise the intention of the reader to be aware, that the ‘meaning’ of the word enclosed in the inverted commas is ‘text specific’: in everyday language usage the speaker uses a word and assumes tacitly that his ‘intended meaning’ will be understood by the hearer of his utterance as ‘it is’. And the speaker will adhere to his assumption until some hearer signals, that her understanding is different. That such a difference is signaled is quite normal, because the ‘meaning’ which is associated with a language expression can be diverse, and a decision, which one of these multiple possible meanings is the ‘intended one’ in a certain context is often a bit ‘arbitrary’. Thus, it can be — but must not — a meta-language strategy, to comment to the hearer (or here: the reader), that a certain expression in a communication is ‘intended’ with a special meaning which perhaps is not the commonly assumed one. Nevertheless, because the ‘common meaning’ is no ‘clear and sharp subject’, a ‘meaning operator’ with the inverted commas has also not a very sharp meaning. But in the ‘game of language’ it is more than nothing 🙂

[*1b] That the main stream ‘is biased’ is not an accident, not a ‘strange state’, not a ‘failure’, it is the ‘normal state’ based on the deeper structure how human actors are ‘built’ and ‘genetically’ and ‘cultural’ ‘programmed’. Thus the challenge to ‘survive’ as part of the ‘whole biosphere’ is not a ‘partial task’ to solve a single problem, but to solve in some sense the problem how to ‘shape the whole biosphere’ in a way, which enables a live in the universe for the time beyond that point where the sun is turning into a ‘red giant’ whereby life will be impossible on the planet earth (some billion years ahead)[22]. A remarkable text supporting this ‘complex view of sustainability’ can be found in Clark and Harvey, summarized at the end of the text. [23]

[*2] The meaning of the expression ‘normal’ is comparable to a wicked problem. In a certain sense we act in our everyday world ‘as if there exists some standard’ for what is assumed to be ‘normal’. Look for instance to houses, buildings: to a certain degree parts of a house have a ‘standard format’ assuming ‘normal people’. The whole traffic system, most parts of our ‘daily life’ are following certain ‘standards’ making ‘planning’ possible. But there exists a certain percentage of human persons which are ‘different’ compared to these introduced standards. We say that they have a ‘handicap’ compared to this assumed ‘standard’, but this so-called ‘standard’ is neither 100% true nor is the ‘given real world’ in its properties a ‘100% subject’. We have learned that ‘properties of the real world’ are distributed in a rather ‘statistical manner’ with different probabilities of occurrences. To ‘find our way’ in these varying occurrences we try to ‘mark’ the main occurrences as ‘normal’ to enable a basic structure for expectations and planning. Thus, if in this text the expression ‘normal’ is used it refers to the ‘most common occurrences’.

[*3] Thus we have here a ‘threefold structure’ embracing ‘perception events, memory events, and expression events’. Perception events represent ‘concrete events’; memory events represent all kinds of abstract events but they all have a ‘handle’ which maps to subsets of concrete events; expression events are parts of an abstract language system, which as such is dynamically mapped onto the abstract events. The main source for our knowledge about perceptions, memory and expressions is experimental psychology enhanced by many other disciplines.

[*4] Characterizing language expressions by meaning – the fate of any grammar: the sentence ” … ‘words’ (= expressions) of a language which can activate such abstract meanings are understood as ‘abstract words’, ‘general words’, ‘category words’ or the like.” is pointing to a deep property of every ordinary language, which represents the real power of language but at the same time the great weakness too: expressions as such have no meaning. Hundreds, thousands, millions of words arranged in ‘texts’, ‘documents’ can show some statistical patterns’ and as such these patterns can give some hint which expressions occur ‘how often’ and in ‘which combinations’, but they never can give a clue to the associated meaning(s). During more than three-thousand years humans have tried to describe ordinary language in a more systematic way called ‘grammar’. Due to this radically gap between ‘expressions’ as ‘observable empirical facts’ and ‘meaning constructs’ hidden inside the brain it was all the time a difficult job to ‘classify’ expressions as representing a certain ‘type’ of expression like ‘nouns’, ‘predicates’, ‘adjectives’, ‘defining article’ and the like. Without regressing to the assumed associated meaning such a classification is not possible. On account of the fuzziness of every meaning ‘sharp definitions’ of such ‘word classes’ was never and is not yet possible. One of the last big — perhaps the biggest ever — project of a complete systematic grammar of a language was the grammar project of the ‘Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR’ (‘Academy of Sciences of the GDR’) from 1981 with the title “Grundzüge einer Deutschen Grammatik” (“Basic features of a German grammar”). A huge team of scientists worked together using many modern methods. But in the preface you can read, that many important properties of the language are still not sufficiently well describable and explainable. See: Karl Erich Heidolph, Walter Flämig, Wolfgang Motsch et al.: Grundzüge einer deutschen Grammatik. Akademie, Berlin 1981, 1028 Seiten.

[*5] Differing opinions about a given situation manifested in uttered expressions are a very common phenomenon in everyday communication. In some sense this is ‘natural’, can happen, and it should be no substantial problem to ‘solve the riddle of being different’. But as you can experience, the ability of people to solve the occurrence of different opinions is often quite weak. Culture is suffering by this as a whole.

[1] Gerd Doeben-Henisch, 2022, From SYSTEMS Engineering to THEORYEngineering, see: https://www.uffmm.org/2022/05/26/from-systems-engineering-to-theory-engineering/(Remark: At the time of citation this post was not yet finished, because there are other posts ‘corresponding’ with that post, which are too not finished. Knowledge is a dynamic network of interwoven views …).

[1d] ‘usual science’ is the game of science without having a sustainable format like in citizen science 2.0.

[2] Science, see e.g. wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science

Citation = “Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[1][2]

Citation = “In modern science, the term “theory” refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with the scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that scientific tests should be able to provide empirical support for it, or empirical contradiction (“falsify“) of it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge,[1] in contrast to more common uses of the word “theory” that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which in formal terms is better characterized by the word hypothesis).[2] Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and from scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of the way nature behaves under certain conditions.”

Citation = “New knowledge in science is advanced by research from scientists who are motivated by curiosity about the world and a desire to solve problems.[27][28] Contemporary scientific research is highly collaborative and is usually done by teams in academic and research institutions,[29] government agencies, and companies.[30][31] The practical impact of their work has led to the emergence of science policies that seek to influence the scientific enterprise by prioritizing the ethical and moral development of commercial productsarmamentshealth carepublic infrastructure, and environmental protection.”

[2b] History of science in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science#Scientific_Revolution_and_birth_of_New_Science

[3] Theory, see wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory#:~:text=A%20theory%20is%20a%20rational,or%20no%20discipline%20at%20all.

Citation = “A theory is a rational type of abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as observational study or research. Theories may be scientific, belong to a non-scientific discipline, or no discipline at all. Depending on the context, a theory’s assertions might, for example, include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several related meanings.”

[4] Scientific theory, see: wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

Citation = “In modern science, the term “theory” refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with the scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that scientific tests should be able to provide empirical support for it, or empirical contradiction (“falsify“) of it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge,[1] in contrast to more common uses of the word “theory” that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which in formal terms is better characterized by the word hypothesis).[2] Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and from scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of the way nature behaves under certain conditions.”

[4b] Empiricism in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

[4c] Scientific method in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

Citation =”The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century (with notable practitioners in previous centuries). It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based statistical testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.[1][2][3] [4c]

and

Citation = “The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations[A][a][b] agree with or conflict with the expectations deduced from a hypothesis.[6]: Book I, [6.54] pp.372, 408 [b] Experiments can take place anywhere from a garage to a remote mountaintop to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. There are difficulties in a formulaic statement of method, however. Though the scientific method is often presented as a fixed sequence of steps, it represents rather a set of general principles.[7] Not all steps take place in every scientific inquiry (nor to the same degree), and they are not always in the same order.[8][9]

[5] Gerd Doeben-Henisch, “Is Mathematics a Fake? No! Discussing N.Bourbaki, Theory of Sets (1968) – Introduction”, 2022, https://www.uffmm.org/2022/06/06/n-bourbaki-theory-of-sets-1968-introduction/

[6] Logic, see wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic

[7] W. C. Kneale, The Development of Logic, Oxford University Press (1962)

[8] Set theory, in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_theory

[9] N.Bourbaki, Theory of Sets , 1968, with a chapter about structures, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89l%C3%A9ments_de_math%C3%A9matique

[10] = [5]

[11] Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( 1889 – 1951): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein

[12] Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1953: Philosophische Untersuchungen [PU], 1953: Philosophical Investigations [PI], translated by G. E. M. Anscombe /* For more details see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_Investigations */

[13] Wikipedia EN, Speech acts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_act

[14] While the world view constructed in a brain is ‘virtual’ compared to the ‘real word’ outside the brain (where the body outside the brain is also functioning as ‘real world’ in relation to the brain), does the ‘virtual world’ in the brain function for the brain mostly ‘as if it is the real world’. Only under certain conditions can the brain realize a ‘difference’ between the triggering outside real world and the ‘virtual substitute for the real world’: You want to use your bicycle ‘as usual’ and then suddenly you have to notice that it is not at that place where is ‘should be’. …

[15] Propositional Calculus, see wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_calculus#:~:text=Propositional%20calculus%20is%20a%20branch,of%20arguments%20based%20on%20them.

[16] Boolean algebra, see wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_algebra

[17] Boolean (or propositional) Logic: As one can see in the mentioned articles of the English wikipedia, the term ‘boolean logic’ is not common. The more logic-oriented authors prefer the term ‘boolean calculus’ [15] and the more math-oriented authors prefer the term ‘boolean algebra’ [16]. In the view of this author the general view is that of ‘language use’ with ‘logic inference’ as leading idea. Therefore the main topic is ‘logic’, in the case of propositional logic reduced to a simple calculus whose similarity with ‘normal language’ is widely ‘reduced’ to a play with abstract names and operators. Recommended: the historical comments in [15].

[18] Clearly, thinking alone can not necessarily induce a possible state which along the time line will become a ‘real state’. There are numerous factors ‘outside’ the individual thinking which are ‘driving forces’ to push real states to change. But thinking can in principle synchronize with other individual thinking and — in some cases — can get a ‘grip’ on real factors causing real changes.

[19] This kind of knowledge is not delivered by brain science alone but primarily from experimental (cognitive) psychology which examines observable behavior and ‘interprets’ this behavior with functional models within an empirical theory.

[20] Predicate Logic or First-Order Logic or … see: wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-order_logic#:~:text=First%2Dorder%20logic%E2%80%94also%20known,%2C%20linguistics%2C%20and%20computer%20science.

[21] Gerd Doeben-Henisch, In Favour of Wikipedia, https://www.uffmm.org/2022/07/31/in-favour-of-wikipedia/, 31 July 2022

[22] The sun, see wkp-ed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun (accessed 8 Aug 2022)

[23] By Clark, William C., and Alicia G. Harley – https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-012420-043621, Clark, William C., and Alicia G. Harley. 2020. “Sustainability Science: Toward a Synthesis.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 45 (1): 331–86, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=109026069

[24] Sustainability in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability#Dimensions_of_sustainability

[25] Sustainable Development in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_development

[26] Marope, P.T.M; Chakroun, B.; Holmes, K.P. (2015). Unleashing the Potential: Transforming Technical and Vocational Education and Training (PDF). UNESCO. pp. 9, 23, 25–26. ISBN978-92-3-100091-1.

[27] SDG 4 in wkp-en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goal_4

[28] Thomas Rid, Rise of the Machines. A Cybernetic History, W.W.Norton & Company, 2016, New York – London

[29] Doeben-Henisch, G., 2006, Reducing Negative Complexity by a Semiotic System In: Gudwin, R., & Queiroz, J., (Eds). Semiotics and Intelligent Systems Development. Hershey et al: Idea Group Publishing, 2006, pp.330-342

[30] Döben-Henisch, G.,  Reinforcing the global heartbeat: Introducing the planet earth simulator project, In M. Faßler & C. Terkowsky (Eds.), URBAN FICTIONS. Die Zukunft des Städtischen. München, Germany: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2006, pp.251-263

[29] The idea that individual disciplines are not good enough for the ‘whole of knowledge’ is expressed in a clear way in a video of the theoretical physicist and philosopher Carlo Rovell: Carlo Rovelli on physics and philosophy, June 1, 2022, Video from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Theoretical physicist, philosopher, and international bestselling author Carlo Rovelli joins Lauren and Colin for a conversation about the quest for quantum gravity, the importance of unlearning outdated ideas, and a very unique way to get out of a speeding ticket.

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POPPER – Objective Knowledge (1971). Summary, Comments, how to develope further


eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 07.March 22 – 12.March 2022, 10:55h
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

BLOG-CONTEXT

This post is part of the Philosophy of Science theme which is part of the uffmm blog.

PREFACE

In this post a short summary of Poppers view of an empirical theory is outlined as he describes it in his article “Conjectural Knowledge: My Solution of the Problem of Induction” from 1971.[1] The view of Popper will be commented and the relationsship to the oksimo paradigm of the author will be outlined.

Empirical Theory according to Popper in a Nutshell

Figure: Popper’s concept from 1971 of an empirical theory, compressed in a nutshell. Graphic by Gerd Doeben-Henisch based on the article using Popper’s summarizing ideas on the pages 29-31

POPPER’S POSITION 1971

In this article from 1971 Popper discusses several positions. Finally he offers the following ‘demarcation’ between only two cases: ‘Pseudo Science’ and ‘Empirical Science’.(See p.29) In doing so this triggers the question how it is possible to declare something as an ‘objective empirical theory’ without claiming to have some ‘absolute truth’?

Although Popper denies to have some kind of absolute truth he will “not give up the search for truth”, which finally leads to a “true explanatory theory”.(cf. p.29) “Truth” plays the “role of a regulative idea”.(cf. p.30) Thus according to Popper one can “guess for truth” and some of the hypotheses “may well be true”.(cf.p.30)

In Popper’s view finally ‘observation’ shows up as that behaviour which enables the production of ‘statements’ as the ’empirical basis’ for all arguments.(cf.p.30) Empirical statements are a ‘function of the used language’.(cf. p.31)

This dimension of language leads Popper to the concept of ‘deductive logic’ which describes formal mechanisms to derive from a set of statements — which are assumed to be true — those statements, which are ‘true’ by logical deduction only. If statements are ‘logically false’ then this can be used to classify the set of assumed statements as ‘logically not consistent’. (cf. p.31)

comments on popper’s 1971-position 50 years later

The preceding outline of Popper’s position reveals a minimalist account of the ingredients of an ‘objective empirical theory’. But we as the readers of these ideas are living 50 years later. Our minds are shaped differently. The author of this text thinks that Popper is basically ‘true’, although there are some points in Popper’s argument, which deserve some comments.

Subjective – Absolute

Popper is moving between two boundaries: One boundary is the so called ‘subjective believe’ which can support any idea, and which thereby can include pure nonsense; the other boundary is ‘absolute truth’, which is requiring to hold all the time at all places although the ‘known world’ is evidently showing a steady change.

Empirical Basis

In searching for a possible position between these boundaries, which would allow a minimum of ‘rationality’, he is looking for an ’empirical Basis’ as a point of reference for a ‘rational theory’. He is locating such an empirical basis in ‘observation statements’ which can be used for ‘testing a theory’.

In his view a ‘rational empirical theory’ has to have a ‘set of statements’ (often called ‘assumptions’ of the theory or ‘axioms’) which are assumed to ‘describe the observable world’ in a way that these statements should be able to be ‘confirmed’ or be ‘falsified’.

Confirmation – Falsification

A ‘confirmation’ does not imply that the confirmed statement is ‘absolutely true’ (his basic conviction); but one can experience that a confirmed statement can function as a ‘hypothesis/ conjecture’ which ‘workes in the actual observation’. This does not exclude that it perhaps will not work in a future test. The pragmatical difference between ‘interesting conjectures’ and those which are of less interest is that a ‘repeated confirmation’ increases the ‘probability’, that such a confirmation can happen again. An ‘increasing probability’ can induce an ‘increased expectation’. Nevertheless, increased probabilities and associated increased expectations are no substitutes for ‘truth’.

A test which shows ‘no confirmation’ for a logically derived statement from the theory is difficult to interpret:

Case (i): A theory is claiming that a statement S refers to a proposition A to be ‘true in a certain experiment’, but in the real experiment the observation reveals a proposition B which translates to non-A which can interpreted as ‘the opposite to A is being the case’ (= being ‘true’). This outcome will be interpreted in the way that the proposition B interpreted as ‘non-A’ contradicts ‘A’ and this will be interpreted further in the way, that the statement S of the theory represents a partial contradiction to the observable world.

Case (ii): A theory is claiming that a statement S refers to a proposition A to be ‘true in a certain experiment’, but in the real experiment the observation reveals a proposition B ‘being the case’ (= being ‘true’) which shows a different proposition. And this outcome cannot be related to the proposition ‘A’ which is forecasted by the theory. If the statement ‘can not be interpreted sufficiently well’ then the situation is neither ‘true’ nor ‘false’; it is ‘undefined’.

Discussion: Case (ii) reveals that there exist an observable (empirical) fact which is not related to a certain ‘logically derived’ statement with proposition A. There can be many circumstances why the observation did not generate the ‘expected proposition A’. If one would assume that the observation is related to an ‘agreed process of generating an outcome M’, which can be ‘repeated at will’ from ‘everybody’, then the observed fact of a ‘proposition B distinguished from proposition A’ could be interpreted in the way, that the expectation of the theory cannot be reproduced with the agreed procedure M. This lets the question open, whether there could eventually exist another procedure M’ producing an outcome ‘A’. This case is for the actors which are running the procedure M with regard to the logically derived statement S talking about proposition A ‘unclear’, ‘not defined’, a ‘non-confirmation’. Otherwise it is at the same time no confirmation either.

Discussion: Case (i) seems — at a first glance — to be more ‘clear’ in its interpretation. Assuming here too that the observation is associated with an agreed procedure M producing the proposition B which can be interpreted as non-A (B = non-A). If everybody accepts this ‘classification’ of B as ‘non-A’, then by ‘purely logical reasons’ (depending from the assumed concept of logic !) ‘non-A’ contradicts ‘A’. But in the ‘real world’ with ‘real observations’ things are usually not as ‘clear-cut’ as a theory may assume. The observable outcome B of an agreed procedure M can show a broad spectrum of ‘similarities’ with proposition A varying between 100% and less. Even if one repeats the agreed procedure M several times it can show a ‘sequence of propositions <B1, B2, …, Bn>’ which all are not exactly 100% similar to proposition A. To speak in such a case (the normal case!), of a logical contradiction it is difficult if not impossible. The idea of Popper-1971 with a possible ‘falsification’ of a theory would then become difficult to interpret. A possible remedy for this situation could be to modify a theory in the way that a theory does forecast only statements with a proposition A which is represented as a ‘field of possible instances A = <a1, a2, …, am>’, where every ‘ai‘ represents some kind of a variation. In that modified case it would be ‘more probable’ to judge a non-confirmation between A as <a1, a2, …, am> and B as <B1, B2, …, Bn>, if one would take into account the ‘variability’ of a proposition.[3]

Having discussed the case of ‘non-confirmation’ in the described modified way this leads back again to the case of ‘confirmation’: The ‘fuzziness’ of observable facts even in the context of agreed procedures M of observation, which are repeatable by everyone (usually called measurement) requires for a broader concept of ‘similarity’ between ‘derived propositions’ and ‘observed propositions’. This is since long a hot debated point in the philosophy of science (see e.g. [4]). Until now does no general accepted solution exist for this problem.

Thus the clear idea of Popper to associate a theory candidate with a minimum of rationality by relating the theory in an agreed way to empirical observations becomes in the ‘dust of reality’ a difficult case. It is interesting that the ‘late Popper’ (1988-1991) has modified his view onto this subject a little bit more into the direction of the interpretation of observable events (cf. [5])

Logic as an Organon

In the discussion of the possible confirmation or falsification of a theory Popper uses two different perspectives: (i) in a more broader sense he is talking about the ‘process of justification’ of the theoretical statements with regard to an empirical basis relying on the ‘regulative idea of truth’, and (ii) in a more specialized sense he is talking about ‘deductive logic as an organon of criticism’. These two perspectives demand for more clarification.

While the meaning of the concept ‘theory’ is rather vague (statements, which have to be confirmed or falsified with respect to observational statements), the concept ‘deductive logic as an organon’ isn’t really clearer.

Until today we have two big paradigms of logic: (i) the ‘classical logic’ inspired by Aristotle (with many variants) and (ii) ‘modern formal logic’ (cf. [6]) in combination with modern mathematics (cf. [7],[8]). Both paradigms represent a whole universe of different variants, whose combinations into concrete formal empirical theories shows more than one paradigm.(cf. [4], [8], [10])

As outlined in the figure above the principal idea of logic in general follows the following schema: one has a set of expressions of some language L for which one assumes at least, that these expressions are classified as ‘true expressions’. According to an agreed procedure of ‘derivation’ one can derive (deduce, infer, …) other expressions of the language which are assumed to be classified as ‘true’ if the assumptions hold.[11]

The important point here is, that the modern concept of logic does not explain, what ‘true’ means nor exists there an explanation, how exactly a procedure looks like which enables the classification of an expression as ‘being true’. Logic works with the minimalist assumption that the ‘user of logic’ is using statements which he assumes to be ‘true’ independent of how this classification came into being. This frees the user of logic to deal with the cumbersome process of clarifying the meaning and the existence of something which makes a statement ‘true’, but on the other side the user of modern logic has no real control whether his ‘concept of derivation’ makes any sense in a real world, from which observation statements are generated claiming to be ’empirically true’, and that the relationships between these observational statements are appropriately ‘represented’ by the formal derivation concept. Until today there exists no ‘meta-theory’ which explains the relationship between the derivation concept of formal logic (there are many such concepts!) and the ‘dynamics of real events’.

Thus, if Popper mentions formal logic as a tool for the handling of assumed true statements of a theory, it is not really clear whether such a formal logical derivation really is appropriate to explain the ‘relationships between assumed true statements’ without knowing, which kind of reality is ‘designated’/ ‘referred to’ by such statements and their relationships between each other.

(Formalized) Theory and Logic

In his paper Popper does not explain too much what he is concretely mean with a (formalized) theory. Today there exist many different proposals of formalized theories for the usage as ’empirical theories’, but there is no commonly agreed final ‘template’ of a ‘formal empirical theory’.

Nevertheless we need some minimal conception to be able to discuss some of the properties of a theory more concretely. I will address this problem in another post accompanied with concrete applications.

COMMENTS

[1] Karl R.Popper, Conjectural Knowledge: My Solution of the Problem of Induction, in: [2], pp.1-31

[2] Karl R.Popper, Objective Knowledge. An Evolutionary Approach, Oxford University Press, London, 1972 (reprint with corrections 1973)

[3] In our everyday use of our ‘normal’ language it is the ‘normal’ case that a statement S like ‘There s a cup on the table’ can be interpreted in many different ways depending which concrete thing (= proposition B of the above examples) called a ‘cup’ or called ‘table’ can be observed.

[4] F. Suppe, Ed., The Structure of Scientific Theories, University of
Illinois Press, Urbana, 2nd edition, 1979.

[5] Gerd Doeben-Henisch, 2022,(SPÄTER) POPPER – WISSENSCHAFT – PHILOSOPHIE – OKSIMO-DISKURSRAUM, in: eJournal: Philosophie Jetzt – Menschenbild, ISSN 2365-5062, 22.-23.Februar 2022,
URL: https://www.cognitiveagent.org/2022/02/22/popper-wissenschaft-philosophie-oksimo-paradigma/

[6] William Kneale and Martha Kneale, The development of logic, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1962 with several corrections and reprints 1986.

[7] Jean Dieudonnè, Geschichte der Mathematik 1700-1900, Friedrich Viehweg & Sohn, Braunschweig – Wiesbaden, 1985 (From the French edition “Abrégé d’histoire des mathématique 1700-1900, Hermann, Paris, 1978)

[8] Philip J.Davis & Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1981

[9] Nicolas Bourbaki, Elements of Mathematics. Theory of Sets, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1968

[10] Wolfgang Balzer, C.Ulises Moulines, Joseph D.Sneed, An Architectonic for Science. The Structuralist Program,D.Reidel Publ. Company, Dordrecht -Boston – Lancaster – Tokyo, 1987

[11] The usage of the terms ‘expression’, ‘proposition’, and ‘statement’ is in this text as follows: An ‘expression‘ is a string of signs from some alphabet A and which is accepted as ‘well formed expression’ of some language L. A ‘statement‘ is an utterance of some actor using expressions of the language L to talk ‘about’ some ‘experience’ — from the world of bodies or from his consciousness –, which is understood as the ‘meaning‘ of the statement. The relationship between the expressions of the statement and the meaning is located ‘in the actor’ and has been ‘learned’ by interactions with the world and himself. This hypothetical relationship is here called ‘meaning function  φ’. A ‘proposition‘ is (i) the inner construct of the meaning of a statement (here called ‘intended proposition’) and (ii) that part of the experience, which is correlated with the inner construct of the stated meaning (here called ‘occurring proposition’). The special relationship between the intended proposition and the occurring proposition is often expressed as ‘referring to’ or ‘designate’. A statement is called to ‘hold’/ to be ‘true’ or ‘being the case’ if there exists an occurring proposition which is ‘similar enough’ to the intended proposition of the statement. If such an occurring proposition is lacking then the designation of the statement is ‘undefined’ or ‘non confirming’ the expectation.

Follow-up Post

For a follow-up post see here.

OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. The Oksimo Theory Paradigm

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 2.April – 2.April  2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

THE OKSIMO THORY PARADIGM

The Oksimo Theory Paradigm
Figure 1: The Oksimo Theory Paradigm

The following text is a short illustration how the general theory concept as extracted from the text of Popper can be applied to the oksimo simulation software concept.

The starting point is the meta-theoetical schema as follows:

MT=<S, A[μ], E, L, AX, ⊢, ET, E+, E-, true, false, contradiction, inconsistent>

In the oksimo case we have also a given empirical context S, a non-epty set of human actors A[μ] whith a built-in meaning function for the expressions E of some language L, some axioms AX as a subset of the expressions E, an inference concept , and all the other concepts.

The human actors A[μ] can write  some documents with the expressions E of language L. In one document S_U they can write down some universal facts they belief that these are true (e.g. ‘Birds can fly’).  In another document S_E they can write down some empirical facts from the given situation S like ‘There is something named James. James is a bird’. And somehow they wish that James should be able to fly, thus they write down a vision text S_V with ‘James can fly’.

The interesting question is whether it is possible to generate a situation S_E.i in the future, which includes the fact ‘James can fly’.

With the knowledge already given they can built the change rule: IF it is valid, that {Birds can fly. James is a bird} THEN with probability π = 1 add the expression Eplus = {‘James can fly’} to the actual situation S_E.i. EMinus = {}. This rule is then an element of the set of change rules X.

The simulator X works according to the schema S’ = S – Eminus + Eplus.

Because we have S=S_U + S_E we are getting

S’ = {Birds can fly. Something is named James. James is a bird.} – Eminus + Eplus

S’ = {Birds can fly. Something is named James. James is a bird.} – {}+ {James can fly}

S’ = {Birds can fly. Something is named James. James is a bird. James can fly}

With regard to the vision which is used for evaluation one can state additionally:

|{James can fly} ⊆ {Birds can fly. Something is named James. James is a bird. James can fly}|= 1 ≥ 1

Thus the goal has been reached with 1 meaning with 100%.

THE ROLE OF MEANING

What makes a certain difference between classical concepts of an empirical theory and the oksimo paradigm is the role of meaning in the oksimo paradigm. While the classical empirical theory concept is using formal (mathematical) languages for their descriptions with the associated — nearly unsolvable — problem how to relate these concepts to the intended empirical world, does the oksimo paradigm assume the opposite: the starting point is always the ordinary language as basic language which on demand can be extended by special expressions (like e.g. set theoretical expressions, numbers etc.).

Furthermore it is in the oksimo paradigm assumed that the human actors with their built-in meaning function nearly always are able to  decided whether an expression e of the used expressions E of the ordinary language L is matching certain properties of the given situation S. Thus the human actors are those who have the authority to decided by their meaning whether some expression is actually true or not.

The same holds with possible goals (visions) and possible inference rules (= change rules). Whether some consequence Y shall happen if some condition X is satisfied by a given actual situation S can only be decided by the human actors. There is no other knowledge available then that what is in the head of the human actors. [1] This knowledge can be narrow, it can even be wrong, but human actors can only decide with that knowledge what is available to them.

If they are using change rules (= inference rules) based on their knowledge and they derive some follow up situation as a theorem, then it can happen, that there exists no empiricial situation S which is matching the theorem. This would be an undefined truth case. If the theorem t would be a contradiction to the given situation S then it would be clear that the theory is inconsistent and therefore something seems to be wrong. Another case cpuld be that the theorem t is matching a situation. This would confirm the belief on the theory.

COMMENTS

[1] Well known knowledge tools are since long libraries and since not so long data-bases. The expressions stored there can only be of use (i) if a human actor knows about these and (ii) knows how to use them. As the amount of stored expressions is increasing the portion of expressions to be cognitively processed by human actors is decreasing. This decrease in the usable portion can be used for a measure of negative complexity which indicates a growng deterioration of the human knowledge space.  The idea that certain kinds of algorithms can analyze these growing amounts of expressions instead of the human actor themself is only constructive if the human actor can use the results of these computations within his knowledge space.  By general reasons this possibility is very small and with increasing negativ complexity it is declining.

 

 

 

OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. Popper’s Position

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 31.March – 31.March  2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

POPPERs POSITION IN THE CHAPTERS 1-17

In my reading of the chapters 1-17 of Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery [1] I see the following three main concepts which are interrelated: (i) the concept of a scientific theory, (ii) the point of view of a meta-theory about scientific theories, and (iii) possible empirical interpretations of scientific theories.

Scientific Theory

A scientific theory is according to Popper a collection of universal statements AX, accompanied by a concept of logical inference , which allows the deduction of a certain theorem t  if one makes  some additional concrete assumptions H.

Example: Theory T1 = <AX1,>

AX1= {Birds can fly}

H1= {Peter is  a bird}

: Peter can fly

Because  there exists a concrete object which is classified as a bird and this concrete bird with the name ‘Peter’ can  fly one can infer that the universal statement could be verified by this concrete bird. But the question remains open whether all observable concrete objects classifiable as birds can fly.

One could continue with observations of several hundreds of concrete birds but according to Popper this would not prove the theory T1 completely true. Such a procedure can only support a numerical universality understood as a conjunction of finitely many observations about concrete birds   like ‘Peter can fly’ & ‘Mary can fly’ & …. &’AH2 can fly’.(cf. p.62)

The only procedure which is applicable to a universal theory according to Popper is to falsify a theory by only one observation like ‘Doxy is a bird’ and ‘Doxy cannot fly’. Then one could construct the following inference:

AX1= {Birds can fly}

H2= {Doxy is  a bird, Doxy cannot fly}

: ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

If a statement A can be inferred and simultaneously the negation ~A then this is called a logical contradiction:

{AX1, H2}  ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

In this case the set {AX1, H2} is called inconsistent.

If a set of statements is classified as inconsistent then you can derive from this set everything. In this case you cannot any more distinguish between true or false statements.

Thus while the increase of the number of confirmed observations can only increase the trust in the axioms of a scientific theory T without enabling an absolute proof  a falsification of a theory T can destroy the ability  of this  theory to distinguish between true and false statements.

Another idea associated with this structure of a scientific theory is that the universal statements using universal concepts are strictly speaking speculative ideas which deserve some faith that these concepts will be provable every time one will try  it.(cf. p.33, 63)

Meta Theory, Logic of Scientific Discovery, Philosophy of Science

Talking about scientific theories has at least two aspects: scientific theories as objects and those who talk about these objects.

Those who talk about are usually Philosophers of Science which are only a special kind of Philosophers, e.g. a person  like Popper.

Reading the text of Popper one can identify the following elements which seem to be important to describe scientific theories in a more broader framework:

A scientific theory from a point of  view of Philosophy of Science represents a structure like the following one (minimal version):

MT=<S, A[μ], E, L, AX, , ET, E+, E-, true, false, contradiction, inconsistent>

In a shared empirical situation S there are some human actors A as experts producing expressions E of some language L.  Based on their built-in adaptive meaning function μ the human actors A can relate  properties of the situation S with expressions E of L.  Those expressions E which are considered to be observable and classified to be true are called true expressions E+, others are called false expressions  E-. Both sets of expressions are true subsets of E: E+ ⊂ E  and E- ⊂ E. Additionally the experts can define some special  set of expressions called axioms  AX which are universal statements which allow the logical derivation of expressions called theorems of the theory T  ET which are called logically true. If one combines the set of axioms AX with some set of empirically true expressions E+ as {AX, E+} then one can logically derive either  only expressions which are logically true and as well empirically true, or one can derive logically true expressions which are empirically true and empirically false at the same time, see the example from the paragraph before:

{AX1, H2}  ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

Such a case of a logically derived contradiction A and ~A tells about the set of axioms AX unified with the empirical true expressions  that this unified set  confronted with the known true empirical expressions is becoming inconsistent: the axioms AX unified with true empirical expressions  can not  distinguish between true and false expressions.

Popper gives some general requirements for the axioms of a theory (cf. p.71):

  1. Axioms must be free from contradiction.
  2. The axioms  must be independent , i.e . they must not contain any axiom deducible from the remaining axioms.
  3. The axioms should be sufficient for the deduction of all statements belonging to the theory which is to be axiomatized.

While the requirements (1) and (2) are purely logical and can be proved directly is the requirement (3) different: to know whether the theory covers all statements which are intended by the experts as the subject area is presupposing that all aspects of an empirical environment are already know. In the case of true empirical theories this seems not to be plausible. Rather we have to assume an open process which generates some hypothetical universal expressions which ideally will not be falsified but if so, then the theory has to be adapted to the new insights.

Empirical Interpretation(s)

Popper assumes that the universal statements  of scientific theories   are linguistic representations, and this means  they are systems of signs or symbols. (cf. p.60) Expressions as such have no meaning.  Meaning comes into play only if the human actors are using their built-in meaning function and set up a coordinated meaning function which allows all participating experts to map properties of the empirical situation S into the used expressions as E+ (expressions classified as being actually true),  or E- (expressions classified as being actually false) or AX (expressions having an abstract meaning space which can become true or false depending from the activated meaning function).

Examples:

  1. Two human actors in a situation S agree about the  fact, that there is ‘something’ which  they classify as a ‘bird’. Thus someone could say ‘There is something which is a bird’ or ‘There is  some bird’ or ‘There is a bird’. If there are two somethings which are ‘understood’ as being a bird then they could say ‘There are two birds’ or ‘There is a blue bird’ (If the one has the color ‘blue’) and ‘There is a red bird’ or ‘There are two birds. The one is blue and the other is red’. This shows that human actors can relate their ‘concrete perceptions’ with more abstract  concepts and can map these concepts into expressions. According to Popper in this way ‘bottom-up’ only numerical universal concepts can be constructed. But logically there are only two cases: concrete (one) or abstract (more than one).  To say that there is a ‘something’ or to say there is a ‘bird’ establishes a general concept which is independent from the number of its possible instances.
  2. These concrete somethings each classified as a ‘bird’ can ‘move’ from one position to another by ‘walking’ or by ‘flying’. While ‘walking’ they are changing the position connected to the ‘ground’ while during ‘flying’ they ‘go up in the air’.  If a human actor throws a stone up in the air the stone will come back to the ground. A bird which is going up in the air can stay there and move around in the air for a long while. Thus ‘flying’ is different to ‘throwing something’ up in the air.
  3. The  expression ‘A bird can fly’ understood as an expression which can be connected to the daily experience of bird-objects moving around in the air can be empirically interpreted, but only if there exists such a mapping called meaning function. Without a meaning function the expression ‘A bird can fly’ has no meaning as such.
  4. To use other expressions like ‘X can fly’ or ‘A bird can Y’ or ‘Y(X)’  they have the same fate: without a meaning function they have no meaning, but associated with a meaning function they can be interpreted. For instance saying the the form of the expression ‘Y(X)’ shall be interpreted as ‘Predicate(Object)’ and that a possible ‘instance’ for a predicate could be ‘Can Fly’ and for an object ‘a bird’ then we could get ‘Can Fly(a Bird)’ translated as ‘The object ‘a Bird’ has the property ‘can fly” or shortly ‘A Bird can fly’. This usually would be used as a possible candidate for the daily meaning function which relates this expression to those somethings which can move up in the air.
Axioms and Empirical Interpretations

The basic idea with a system of axioms AX is — according to Popper —  that the axioms as universal expressions represent  a system of equations where  the  general terms   should be able to be substituted by certain values. The set of admissible values is different from the set of  inadmissible values. The relation between those values which can be substituted for the terms  is called satisfaction: the values satisfy the terms with regard to the relations! And Popper introduces the term ‘model‘ for that set of admissible terms which can satisfy the equations.(cf. p.72f)

But Popper has difficulties with an axiomatic system interpreted as a system of equations  since it cannot be refuted by the falsification of its consequences ; for these too must be analytic.(cf. p.73) His main problem with axioms is,  that “the concepts which are to be used in the axiomatic system should be universal names, which cannot be defined by empirical indications, pointing, etc . They can be defined if at all only explicitly, with the help of other universal names; otherwise they can only be left undefined. That some universal names should remain undefined is therefore quite unavoidable; and herein lies the difficulty…” (p.74)

On the other hand Popper knows that “…it is usually possible for the primitive concepts of an axiomatic system such as geometry to be correlated with, or interpreted by, the concepts of another system , e.g . physics …. In such cases it may be possible to define the fundamental concepts of the new system with the help of concepts which were originally used in some of the old systems .”(p.75)

But the translation of the expressions of one system (geometry) in the expressions of another system (physics) does not necessarily solve his problem of the non-empirical character of universal terms. Especially physics is using also universal or abstract terms which as such have no meaning. To verify or falsify physical theories one has to show how the abstract terms of physics can be related to observable matters which can be decided to be true or not.

Thus the argument goes back to the primary problem of Popper that universal names cannot not be directly be interpreted in an empirically decidable way.

As the preceding examples (1) – (4) do show for human actors it is no principal problem to relate any kind of abstract expressions to some concrete real matters. The solution to the problem is given by the fact that expressions E  of some language L never will be used in isolation! The usage of expressions is always connected to human actors using expressions as part of a language L which consists  together with the set of possible expressions E also with the built-in meaning function μ which can map expressions into internal structures IS which are related to perceptions of the surrounding empirical situation S. Although these internal structures are processed internally in highly complex manners and  are — as we know today — no 1-to-1 mappings of the surrounding empirical situation S, they are related to S and therefore every kind of expressions — even those with so-called abstract or universal concepts — can be mapped into something real if the human actors agree about such mappings!

Example:

Lets us have a look to another  example.

If we take the system of axioms AX as the following schema:  AX= {a+b=c}. This schema as such has no clear meaning. But if the experts interpret it as an operation ‘+’ with some arguments as part of a math theory then one can construct a simple (partial) model m  as follows: m={<1,2,3>, <2,3,5>}. The values are again given as  a set of symbols which as such must not ave a meaning but in common usage they will be interpreted as sets of numbers   which can satisfy the general concept of the equation.  In this secondary interpretation m is becoming  a logically true (partial) model for the axiom Ax, whose empirical meaning is still unclear.

It is conceivable that one is using this formalism to describe empirical facts like the description of a group of humans collecting some objects. Different people are bringing  objects; the individual contributions will be  reported on a sheet of paper and at the same time they put their objects in some box. Sometimes someone is looking to the box and he will count the objects of the box. If it has been noted that A brought 1 egg and B brought 2 eggs then there should according to the theory be 3 eggs in the box. But perhaps only 2 could be found. Then there would be a difference between the logically derived forecast of the theory 1+2 = 3  and the empirically measured value 1+2 = 2. If one would  define all examples of measurement a+b=c’ as contradiction in that case where we assume a+b=c as theoretically given and c’ ≠ c, then we would have with  ‘1+2 = 3′ & ~’1+2 = 3’ a logically derived contradiction which leads to the inconsistency of the assumed system. But in reality the usual reaction of the counting person would not be to declare the system inconsistent but rather to suggest that some unknown actor has taken against the agreed rules one egg from the box. To prove his suggestion he had to find this unknown actor and to show that he has taken the egg … perhaps not a simple task … But what will the next authority do: will the authority belief  the suggestion of the counting person or will the authority blame the counter that eventually he himself has taken the missing egg? But would this make sense? Why should the counter write the notes how many eggs have been delivered to make a difference visible? …

Thus to interpret some abstract expression with regard to some observable reality is not a principal problem, but it can eventually be unsolvable by purely practical reasons, leaving questions of empirical soundness open.

SOURCES

[1] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, First published 1935 in German as Logik der Forschung, then 1959 in English by  Basic Books, New York (more editions have been published  later; I am using the eBook version of Routledge (2002))