William Rawleigh

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William Rawleigh is a Canadian scientonomist, notable for his work on questions as epistemic elements and the mechanism of method employment.


Suggested Modifications

Here are all the modifications suggested by Rawleigh:

  • Sciento-2018-0001: Accept the definition of question as a topic of inquiry. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 12 May 2018.1 The modification was accepted on 26 September 2018. The consensus was reached as a result of in-person consultations with scientonomists mostly outside of the discussion page of this modification. It was agreed that as the only currently published definition of the term, Rawleigh's definition is to be accepted as the best available. An alternative definition of question as "a topic of scientific inquiry"c1 was presented as a potentially pursuit-worthy direction. However, it was eventually agreed that including "scientificity" into the definition of question conflates "the question of how a question should be defined" with "the question of what stances can be taken towards questions".c2 It does not distinguish "the propositional content of the element itself" and "its historical fate", for "scientificity or lack thereof doesn't change the propositional content of the question".c3
  • Sciento-2018-0002: Accept the ontology of epistemic elements with theories, methods, and questions as distinct epistemic elements. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 12 May 2018.1 The modification was accepted on 26 September 2018. Following several focused discussions - both in-person and on the discussion page of this modification - it was finally decided that the modification is to be accepted. Three important clarifications were made. First, it was noted that Rawleigh only shows that questions cannot be reduced either to methods or to theories, but it is still conceivable "that questions may be functions of both theories and methods simultaneously".c1 Second, it was decided that accepting the modification is still warranted, since currently we don't have any idea how questions could be reduced to a conjunction of theories and methods.c2 Third, scientonomists are actively encouraged to pursue the question of possibility of reducing questions to a conjunction of theories and methods.c3
  • Sciento-2018-0003: Accept that the epistemic stance that can be taken by an epistemic agent towards a question is question acceptance (the opposite is unacceptance), where question acceptance is defined as "a question is said to be accepted if it is taken as a legitimate topic of inquiry". The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 12 May 2018.1 The modification was accepted on 1 November 2018. It was noted that "the whole point of adding questions to the ontology of epistemic elements was that we can legitimately speak of a question being accepted by a certain agent at a certain time".c1 The discussion also revealed a need to distinguish "a situation where no consensus exists from a situation where a consensus exists that a question is illegitimate".c2 In other words, "just as question acceptance, theory acceptance too seems to allow for three values: (clearly) accepted; (clearly) unaccepted; no consensus".c3 Thus, a new question was suggested concerning the binary character of epistemic stances: "are all epistemic stances binary, or do they allow for more than two values?"c4
  • Sciento-2018-0004: Accept the questions of the mechanism question acceptance and indicators of question acceptance as legitimate topics of scientonomic inquiry. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 12 May 2018.1 The modification was accepted on 1 November 2018. As the modification concerned exclusively questions, it was set to be accepted automatically once its "parent" modifications became accepted. Thus, the questions of the mechanism of question acceptance and indicators of question acceptance became automatically accepted once the presupposed modifications were accepted.
  • Sciento-2022-0001: Accept a new model-theoretic definition of scientific mosaic, according to which, a scientific mosaic is a model of all epistemic elements accepted or employed by the epistemic agent. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 28 February 2022.2 The modification was accepted on 21 February 2024. Nobody submitted opinions on this modification to the encyclopedia prior to the 2024 workshop. At the workshop, most of the discussion focused around the differences in wording between the earlier definition of scientific mosaic and the new one as formulated by Rawleigh. It was clarified that there is little difference in meaning between the definitions, but Rawleigh’s modification addressed the concern that the old language for describing a scientific mosaic was couched in terms of set theory, which Jamie Shaw pointed out would pose a problem for how we typically talk about mosaics (classifying mosaics by their number of elements is not particularly helpful for scientonomers). The new model-theoretic definition seemed more intuitive to some members of the community, even though neither definition commits to any syntactic view of theories. Some members of the community did not vote on the modification given their lack of experience with set theory, but overall the modification was accepted by over a two-thirds majority of voters. 13 out of 15 votes were to accept.
  • Sciento-2022-0002: Accept the new law of norm employment that fixes some of the issues of the current law of method employment and makes it applicable to norms of all types. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by William Rawleigh on 28 February 2022.2 The modification was accepted on 21 February 2024. Prior to the 2024 workshop, Hakob Barseghyan commented on the encyclopedia with his opinion that the modification should be accepted given that the formulation seemed relatively future-proof: it would not have to change even if more elements are included into our ontology. Paul Patton and Cameron Scott raised some concerns about the differences between norm employment and norm acceptance, and about the derivability of norms from agents’ mosaics, given cases in the history of science where agents accept a norm that is derivable from their mosaic but do not act accordingly (that is, they fail to employ the norm). However, it was noted that this is a separate issue from what the modification aims to do: the law of norm employment does not describe what happens to norms that are already present in the mosaic, but merely describes how norms come to be part of the mosaic. Yet, the discrepancy in the community’s accepted definitions of norm acceptance (as a subtype of theory acceptance) and norm employment was highlighted as a pertinent issue for later focus. After this clarification, there were no further issues raised, and the modification was accepted by over a two-thirds majority of voters. 14 out of 16 votes were for acceptance.

Theories

The following table contains all the theories formulated by Rawleigh:

TitleTypeFormulationFormulated In
Epistemic Stances Towards Questions - Question Acceptance (Rawleigh-2018)DescriptiveThe stance of question acceptance can be taken towards a question.2018
Question (Rawleigh-2018)DefinitionA topic of inquiry.2018
Question Is a Subtype of Epistemic Element (Rawleigh-2018)DescriptiveQuestion is a subtype of Epistemic Element, i.e. epistemic element is a supertype of question.2018
Question ExistsDescriptiveThere is such a thing as a question.2018
Question Acceptance (Rawleigh-2018)DefinitionA question is said to be accepted if it is taken as a legitimate topic of inquiry.2018
Theory Answers Question (Rawleigh-2018)DescriptiveA theory is an answer to a question.2018
Question Acceptance Is a Subtype of Epistemic Stance (Rawleigh-2018)DescriptiveQuestion Acceptance is a subtype of Epistemic Stance, i.e. epistemic stance is a supertype of question acceptance.2018
Question Acceptance ExistsDescriptiveThere is such a thing as question acceptance.2018
Scientific Mosaic (Rawleigh-2022)DefinitionA model of all epistemic elements accepted or employed by the epistemic agent.2022
The Law of Norm Employment (Rawleigh-2022)DescriptiveA norm becomes employed only if it is derivable from a non-empty subset of other elements of the mosaic.2022
The Law of Method Employment (Rawleigh-2022)DescriptiveA method becomes employed only if it is derivable from a non-empty subset of other elements of the mosaic.2022

Questions

Here are all the questions formulated by Rawleigh:

Publications

Here are the works of Rawleigh included in the bibliographic records of this encyclopedia:

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References

  1. a b c d  Rawleigh, William. (2018) The Status of Questions in the Ontology of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 2, 1-12. Retrieved from https://scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/29651.
  2. a b  Rawleigh, William. (2022) Reconceiving Scientific Mosaics: A New Formalization for Theoretical Scientonomy. In Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022), 83-103.