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Linguistic reference in science : problems and progress
Book Contribution - Book Chapter Conference Contribution
The crucial role that mathematical notation systems have played in the success of the hard or mathematical sciences is well known and richly documented: the origin of the history of these sophisticated notation systems more or less coincides with the birth of modern science. The role of our linguistic notation systems (as applied to, or used in, the scientific study of nature), by contrast, is hardly documented at all, at least not in a systematic way. We distinguish between (metaphorical and non-metaphorical) meta-scientific terms and scientific terms and, as far as the latter is concerned, between methodology and content terms. It is the latter sort of terms that interest us here. Five different dysfunctions in the relationship between scientific linguistic tokens and their referents will be presented and illustrated: scientific terms or phrases can not only be imprecise, they can also be meaningless, indiscriminate, inapt and ambiguous. By correcting or alleviating such dysfunctions, our linguistic notation systems have, in the course of the past four centuries, become more refined and functional scientific tools. This simple, illustrated taxonomy is not only historically relevant, it may also help contemporaneous scientists to identify and avoid possible pitfalls, associated with the use of language in science.
Book: SGEM 2016, BK 3: ANTHRPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, VOL I
Pages: 603 - 610