Follow project on Twitter
NederlandsEnglish

1.6. The limits of science

Predicate Logic (algebra) has a fundamental problem when applied to linguistics: It doesn’t naturally go beyond the present tense of basic verb “to be”. This defines the limits of science. It will be illustrated by three examples: Competence, touching the limits, and incompetence.

1) Calculation that can be automated through an algorithm:
The following calculation can be automated through current techniques – from a sentence with basic verb “is/are”, through an algorithm, back to a self-constructed sentence with basic verb “is/are” – because basic verb “is/are” is supported by algebra / Predicate Logic:

> Given: “Amy is 9 years old.
> Given: “Shirley is 2 years older than Amy.

• Logical conclusions:
< “Shirley is 11 years old.

2) Automated calculation that touches the limits of science:
The following calculation can be automated through current techniques. But it touches the limits of science:

> Given: “Amy has three apples.
> Given: “Shirley has four apples.

• A logical conclusion would be:
< “Amy and Shirley have seven apples (together).

However, algebra / Predicate Logic is not defined for possessive verb “has/have”. So, in a strict scientific sense, this conclusion can't be automated through an algorithm, because the use of possessive verb “has/have” is not supported by algebra / Predicate Logic.

But when we encounter a calculation containing possessive verb “has/have”, we have been unconsciously taught at elementary school to convert it into a verb “is/are” problem first:

• Logical conclusion:
< “Three apples and four apples are seven apples (together).

This conclusion is of course the linguistic equivalent of equation “3 + 4 = 7”, which is supported by algebra. So, the problem is solved thanks to a workaround.

3) Automated assumption, out of scientific reach:
The following assumption can't be automated in a strict scientific sense, because the use of possessive verb “has/have” is not supported by algebra / Predicate Logic:

> Given: “Every liquid has a specific boiling point.
> Given: “Water has a boiling point of 100 degrees centigrade at 1 bar air pressure.

• Logical assumption:
< “Water is probably a liquid.

Any algorithm that implements this conversion, is not supported by algebra / Predicate Logic, and therefore not supported by science. This defines the limits of science.


If you don’t agree, please provide me a peer-reviewed scientific paper describing a similar conversion, from a sentence with possessive verb “has/have”, through an algorithm, to a self-constructed sentence with basic verb “is/are”, or vice versa.