us with a vocabulary and the rules for using this vocabulary in the context of

Us with a vocabulary and the rules for using this

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us with a vocabulary and the rules for using this vocabulary in the context of a model to formulate causal explanations. A natural language contains a vocabulary and a set of syntactic and semantic rules which one must follow in order to form well-formed and meaningful combinations of words taken from the vocabulary. The language as such is neither true nor false: it does not state anything. But it can be used to describe and ascertain facts. We can form declarative sentences and the combination of words by which we do this becomes first true or false when someone intentionally utters or states them to convey information about those facts. A natural language is also an open language in the sense that new words can be incorporated into its vocabulary so long as they obey the rules of that language. And it is universal in the sense that every domain of reality to be recognized corresponds to a certain segment of such a language. A scientific theory constitutes a language too. It contains a vocabulary and some precise and explicit syntactic rules for how the vocabulary must be put together. In many sciences the 13. B. Ellis (1985), p. 56 16
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vocabulary and the rules of language are often given a mathematical representation in order to give the terms a precise definition. In contrast to the semantic view, I hold that the arrow of interpretation goes bottom-up as much as top-down. When we are establishing a convention for such a representation, we give an interpretation of the main terms of a particular science which defines the precise rules of their usage. The meaning of these terms is already recognized in virtue of their function in an experimental and observational practice, and they are carried with this practice regardless of the fact that theories in which they are represented may change. Thus the same terms are given different mathematical representation by different theories. For instance Newton’s so-called laws of motion are mathematical symbols arranged according to some definite rules for how the vocabulary of classical mechanics such as ‘uniform motion,’ ‘acceleration,’ ‘force,’ ‘position,’ and ‘mass’ must be interrelated. Those terms related to our everyday experience with physical objects. We can say that Newton’s mechanics gives one interpretation of these fundamental terms. The theory of relativity gives another interpretation of the use of the same terms. Consequently, I suggest that the basic vocabulary of, say, classical mechanics, is borrowed from the practice of science and were developed long before they were incorporated in Newton’s theory. Explicit linguistic rules normally lay down the use of the vocabulary by defining the words as analytical determinations of how particular expressions are to be understood. But are definitions not the result of some a priori stipulation; that is are they not true by definitions, as when we decide that ‘bachelor’ and ‘unmarried man’ mean the same thing? Not really. Statements like ‘Force is the same as mass times acceleration’, although expressing a definition, are not the result of any a priori specification. Rather such statements can be meaning-constituting and nevertheless not true. We should regard definitions as a kind
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