I have previously written about ideals of using formal logic to express personal views of the real world in a logical way. This idea of formal logic as an aid in thinking clearly has echoes across the opinions of many logicians, including the very founder of the field, Aristotle. His treatise laying down the foundations of the field of formal logic was given the title “The Organon” (the organ/instrument) pointing to the role of logic as an instrument to establish facts about the world. Others like Boole explicitly referred to the notion of “Laws of Thought” that strongly advocates the notion that the principles of the act of thinking are governed by logical “laws”.
Past: Expert Systems, Completeness and Consistency
In the past, I worked on a simplified expert system to establish a consistent system of ethics. The aim was to filter down your ethical views, and by disallowing inconsistencies, distil a consistent version of your ethical views. However, the expert system was only fit for absolutist ethics, and after a careful consideration, I halted the project on the basis that, in my opinion, relativist ethics are not suitable to the logical distillation that the expert system performed and, in practice, all systems of ethics are relativist. In my view, this was because, in relativist ethics, the truth value of a given ethical statement is contingent on the idiosyncrasies rather than on general principles, in consequence, given a particular set of ethical statements as axioms, it is not possible to derive a set of principles from the ethical statements that apply to any other ethical statement without adding further ethical statements as axioms. In addition, inconsistencies among ethical statements are sometimes solvable only by adding further non-general ethical statements as axioms. This means that a system of relativist ethics is not complete in the way that absolutist ethics is. The inability to ensure consistency and completeness in relativist ethics was the reason why logical distillation was not possible in systems of relativist ethics.
Present: Semantic Networks and Consistency
My new proposal is different and it stems from my dislike of circular definitions in dictionaries.
Circular definitions == Circular logic
Circular logic is an unaccepted form of inference where the individual’s aim is to establish the truth value of a factual statement X by including that statement as a part of an axiom Y that has not been agreed upon. Example:
X. Humans have souls
Y. Humans without souls are machines and no human is a machine
A circular definition is an unaccepted(?) form of definition where the individual’s aim is to establish the meaning of a word X by including that word as a part of the meaning of a word Y whose definition has not been agreed upon. Example:
X. Person: human
Y. Human: person
On linguistic descriptivism versus linguistic prescriptivism
Opinions on the acceptance of the use of circular definitions in written human languages can be divided in two schools. The prescriptivist school and the descriptivist school. The prescriptivist school is made of individuals who have a preference regarding certain aspects of human language use. On the other hand, the descriptivist school is followed by individuals who approach languages like anthropologists follow tribes: they consider themselves mere observers and do not voice their preferences about aspects of human language use. For purposes of semantic consistency and general pragmatism, I advocate that languages should have traits that are useful to its speakers and not have traits that are not useful to its speakers. I consider a lack of semantic consistency, a useless trait and therefore, I advocate a language that has semantic consistency. I do not advocate forcing everyone to follow the same approach to language. I do advocate that, just like in software development where variations of a language can serve different purposes, so variations of a human language can serve different purposes. A semantically consistent language is one such purpose. A single-syllable language might be another such purpose. And language descriptivism advocates can just use any of the variations. The general idea is that, in my opinion, there should be no reason why human languages cannot be modified to suit particular needs.
a) To bring forth semantic consistency in a variation of a human language by breaking circular definitions
b) To make a semantic network out of the resulting lexicon from a)
c) To introduce facts in this semantic network so that it can employ logical thinking when queried about these facts