Posts tagged ‘fallacy’

Reductio Ad Absurdum, The Duck Of Vaucanson And How To Solve Semantic Interoperability

No, this is not one of Harry Potter’s spells. He used the Reducto spell to blast solid objects aside. In this post we talk a little bit about reductionism and the way it sometimes is used to make false ontological representations of “things”. According to this excerpt from Wikipedia it works as follows: Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: “reduction to the absurd”) is a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence. Now there are reductionism varieties of which a particular interesting one is ontological reductionism. Let’s zoom in on that one. It seems this type of reductionism is  happening in the real world all the time. It can lead to all kinds of “translation” problems. This is because we human beings like to talk to each other about real world “things” for which we have our own ontological meaning. For example, if one person talks about a Customer (s)he might mean a Consumer, whereas another person might assume that this Customer is a Prosumer. So you cannot reliably exchange information if you don’t add the proper context (or indirectly refer to that context in some way). This is where information exchange can go wrong: if we exchange meaningless information because the context isn’t exchanged or simply assumed to be known while in real life we introduce translation problems. For example, let’s assume I send you a Duck (it’s a Duck of Vaucanson but I did’t tell you that) and at the receiving end, you try to understand what’s inside. I only told you I sent a Duck, I didn’t tell you it was a mechanical Duck. And then you use at the receiving side your own Reduction at Absurdum strategy to determine it’s ontological meaning. By it’s outer, visible attributes you might falsely assume it’s  not a mechanical Duck. This wouldn’t have happened if I also sent you the context. So if we exchange information to eachother that can be Reduced ad Absurdum to it’s original ontological meaning, we also need to “send” the ontological context. It’s another way of telling we need Semantic Interoperability…

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