Tautological Status of The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015)

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Is Harder's zeroth law a tautology?

As any law, Harder's zeroth law attempts to forbid certain courses of events, for otherwise it would lack any empirical content and would be a tautology. Thus, the question is whether Harder's zeroth law is tautological or non-tautological, i.e. whether there are courses of action in principle forbidden by the law.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Jennifer Whyte in 2016. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community.

In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is:

  • Harder's zeroth law is tautological.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 April 2016It was acknowledged as an open question by the Scientonomy Seminar 2016.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015) is Tautological (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)Harder's zeroth law is tautological.2018

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Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyThe Zeroth Law (Harder-2015) is Tautological (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)3 June 2020

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Verdict Verdict Rationale Date Assessed
Sciento-2018-0015 Scientonomy 28 December 2018 Accept the definition of compatibility, as the ability of two elements to coexist in the same mosaic. Also replace the zeroth law with the compatibility corollary. Accepted While the modification induced a few comments on the encyclopedia, it became accepted as a result of discussions that took place mostly offline. It was agreed that the modification "comes to remedy one of the glaring omissions" in the current zeroth which doesn't "say much above and beyond what is already implicit in the notion of compatibility"c1 as it "is lacking in empirical content, and should be replaced with a definition of compatibility".c2 It was also noted that the proposed "definition of compatibility criteria... captures the gist of the concept as it has been used in our community".c3 It was also agreed that "the compatibility corollary follows from this definition".c4 c5 Finally, the community accepted that the definition and the corollary "recover the content of the Zeroth Law".c6 3 June 2020

Current View

In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015) is Tautological (Fraser-Sarwar-2018).

The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015) is Tautological (Fraser-Sarwar-2018) states: "Harder's zeroth law is tautological."

According to Fraser and Sarwar, Harder's formulation of the zeroth law "does not have any empirical content, because it follows directly from the notion of compatibility".1p. 69

Related Topics


  1. ^  Fraser, Patrick and Sarwar, Ameer. (2018) A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change. Scientonomy 2, 67-82. Retrieved from https://scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/31278.