Patton and Al-Zayadi (2021)

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Patton, Paul and Al-Zayadi, Cyrus. (2021) Disciplines in the Scientonomic Ontology. Scientonomy 4, 59-85. Retrieved from

Title Disciplines in the Scientonomic Ontology
Resource Type journal article
Author(s) Paul Patton, Cyrus Al-Zayadi
Year 2021
Journal Scientonomy
Volume 4
Pages 59-85


The role of categories of knowledge, or disciplines, in science has not previously been explored in scientonomy. While disciplinary communities devoted to the production of knowledge are a modern phenomenon, the practice of dividing knowledge into categories is a universal feature of science. Although at any moment of time, many questions and theories can be part of a given discipline, not all of these are essential to the discipline. We show that two components are essential to a discipline: the discipline’s core questions as well as the discipline’s delineating theory, a second-order theory that identifies these questions as essential to the discipline. If the questions of one discipline are a proper subset of the questions of another discipline, the former discipline is a subdiscipline of the latter. Since a discipline is a complex entity consisting of questions and a theory, epistemic agents can take epistemic stances towards disciplines. A discipline is said to be accepted if its core questions and its delineating theory are all accepted. To illustrate the applicability of these new concepts, the transition from physical to biological anthropology is discussed.


Here are all the theories formulated in Patton and Al-Zayadi (2021):

TheoryTypeFormulationFormulated In
Core Question (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA core question of a discipline is a question identified in the discipline’s delineating theory as definitive of the discipline.2021
Subquestion (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA question Q is a subquestion of another question Q’, iff any direct answer to Q is also a partial answer to Q’.2021
Subdiscipline (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA discipline A is a subdiscipline of another discipline B, iff the set of questions of A, QA, is a proper subset of the questions of B, QB, i.e. QAQB.2021
Discipline Acceptance (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA discipline is said to be accepted by an epistemic agent if that agent accepts the core questions specified in the discipline’s delineating theory as well as the delineating theory itself.2021
Delineating Theory (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA second-order theory identifying the set of core questions of a discipline.2021
Discipline (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA discipline is characterized by (1) a non-empty set of core questions Q and (2) the delineating theory stating that Q are the core questions of the discipline.2021
Core Theory (Patton-Al-Zayadi-2021)DefinitionA core theory of a discipline is a theory presupposed by the discipline’s core questions.2021

Suggested Modifications

Here are all the modifications suggested in Patton and Al-Zayadi (2021):

  • Sciento-2021-0006: Accept new definitions of subquestion, core question, core theory, discipline, delineating theory, subdiscipline, and discipline acceptance. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Paul Patton and Cyrus Al-Zayadi on 1 August 2021.1 The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.


  1. ^  Patton, Paul and Al-Zayadi, Cyrus. (2021) Disciplines in the Scientonomic Ontology. Scientonomy 4, 59-85. Retrieved from