Topic: rules

topics > Group: philosophy


analytic truth
computer as state machine
language and life as a game
natural language as a system
non-constraining system
number and arithmetic as part of language
organizations as systems
people vs. computers
private language argument for skepticism about meaning
reality is a machine
what is a computer


Rules are the basis for number and computation. They are a source of much confusion about life and language. Let us distinguish artificial rules from everything else. An artificial rule is a number, a state machine, a Turing machine. It is an invention of humans, and agreed upon by a society. Computers are built to act as if they follow rules.

Reality, life, and language exhibit regularities that often appear as rules. Maybe these rules are inventions of God, or maybe, and this is the thread that runs throughout this work, these rules are after the fact, i.e., regularities to be described and used, but depend on context and others. These rules form a web that connects us to the world, and to each other.

In confusing these two different types of rules, we try to make the world follow artificial rules. We try to make rule-driven systems to improve work and coordination. Instead we could build a medium for expressing these rules. This is the idea behind a non-constraining system. (cbb 4/94)

Subtopic: regularity vs. rule up

Quote: a natural language is about regularities, not rules; using a word (or screwdriver) incorrectly is not breaking a rule [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: a rule is easily confused with a regularity or observable fact [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: the regularities found in a language are not sources of constraint [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: if a locution sounds odd, it is an excellent clue to a regularity of the language; e.g., 'There is an apple good on my lap.' [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: one is not taught one's native language, one learns it (before going to school); again, no rules of language [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: rules about language are often inconsistent because words are used as tools, not labels [»pitkHF_1972]
Quote: a word is not everywhere bounded by rules; what if a game was everywhere bounded by rules? [»wittL_1958a]
Quote: words such as "two" and "and", and rules such as "2+2=4" have many uses but not much of a meaning [»wittL_1939]
Quote: the rules of writing are rules because they work; like keeping your eye on the ball [»mitcR_1979]
Quote: human beings often don't follow rules
Note: there are two kinds of rules: formal rules and regularities; Turing machines and words in a natural language [»cbb_1990, OK]
Note: a vivid huge number is a rule based on a fixed set of primitives and a regularity based on naming

Subtopic: rules connect with plans, not private up

Quote: to follow a rule, the meaning of the rule must have a causal role; behavior itself is insufficient (many possible rules) [»searJR_1984]
Quote: rules connect with plans or policies in a way that regularities do not; e.g., 'As a rule, the train is two minutes late.'
Quote: private language argument--it is not possible to obey a rule privately, otherwise belief would be the same as obeying [»kripSA_1982]
Quote: if consider a person in isolation, a rule can have no meaning; nor truth conditions that verify rule use [»kripSA_1982]

Subtopic: rule as language game up

Quote: our entire lives depend on the 'game' of attributing to others the mastery of certain rules; e.g., the rule of addition [»kripSA_1982]
Quote: each person who claims to be following a rule can be checked by others in the community; a primitive part of the language game [»kripSA_1982]
Quote: how does a series define a rule? can always interpret the rule otherwise, e.g., adding two [»pitkHF_1972]
Quote: suppose someone says "I know what series '1 4 9 16'" is but then writes 20,000 for the 100'th element; may still be following a rule [»wittL_1939]
Quote: the confusion between plus and quus applies to any rule or word; e.g., in the past we meant grue by 'green', and now the sky is green [»kripSA_1982]

Subtopic: computer as rules up

Quote: model a computer as a human organization which operates by strictly defined rules [»holtAW_1997]
Quote: programming is controlling the activity of a digital computer by expressing one's will on punched tapes and other input medium [»turiA3_1951]

Subtopic: rules as responsibility up

Quote: we are each responsible for the consequences of how our acts will be understood within our shared tradition; despite lack of rules [»winoT_1986]
Quote: neither commands nor rules can determine action; both can be ignored or cause conflict; both must be understood; not basis for coordination [»turvMT_1984]
Quote: a human, rule-like behavior depends on current context [»dreyHL_1979]
Quote: the stages of skill acquisition go from a novice recognizing relevant facts and rules to an expert performing without deliberation [»hallH_1992]

Subtopic: linguistic rules up

Quote: analytic statements are true by virtue of linguistic rules alone, without recourse to empirical investigation [»searJR_1958]

Subtopic: rules as number system up

Quote: a number system is a set of numbers whose names/sets are generated by rules [»cbb_1990, OK]
Quote: can consistently identify number systems because rules define the names and structure of a number [»cbb_1990, OK]

Subtopic: rules solve problems of management up

Quote: a small number of laws and rules can include the content of all the laws, albeit in an undeveloped state [»fregG_1879]
Quote: Weber-Taylor school--solve problem of managing large groups by rules about breakdown of work, spans of control, authority and responsibility [»peteTJ_1982]
Quote: a coordination science of laws about realizable rules--what rules work [»holtAW3_1979]
Quote: the rules of an organization include when it's too late and what to do about it, whom to give it to, etc. [»holtAW5_1983]
Quote: computers can help with rules, and nothing else [»holtAW5_1983]
Quote: a role's behavior is defined by a state/action sequence; its rules express the possible state/action sequences [»holtAW5_1983]

Subtopic: people should follow rules up

Quote: Johnson found disorder, confusion, adulterations in English without established principles or authorities [»johnS_1755, OK]
Quote: the Internet fails to help people institute and follow rules; could interconnect through flexible, world-wide, organized activities
Quote: coordination environments address formal coordination by rules [»holtAW_1997]

Subtopic: rules are vacuous up

Quote: central problem of Philosophical Investigations--if an action was determined by a rule, then all actions could be made to accord with the rule; a form of skepticism [»kripSA_1982]
Quote: advice on programming, make a plan; a baffling piece of advice that is independent of rules [»turiA3_1951]

Subtopic: computers do not follow rules up

Quote: computers don't follow rules, they only act as if they did [»searJR_1984]
Quote: a mechanical computer does not literally follow rules; it only behaves as if it does [»searJR_1992]

Related Topics up

Group: formalism   (9 topics, 478 quotes)

Topic: analytic truth (51 items)
Topic: commitment (31 items)
Topic: computer as state machine (20 items)
Topic: language and life as a game (30 items)
Topic: natural language as a system (43 items)
Topic: non-constraining system (25 items)
Topic: number and arithmetic as part of language (30 items)
Topic: organizations as systems (29 items)
Topic: people vs. computers (55 items)
Topic: private language argument for skepticism about meaning (34 items)
Topic: reality is a machine (48 items)
Topic: responsibility (12 items)
Topic: roles (21 items)
Topic: trust (21 items)
Topic: what is a computer
(62 items)

Updated barberCB 3/06
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