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2182019 Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulus in vera site +57 3197219866 NIT 10142273478 © QE So|ngyq4e So] Sopoy 48, INVERSE PROBLEMS, CAPITULO 1. THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM Conceptual problems Conceptual problems or issues are knowledge gaps that can be handled in a promising fashion. For instance, a nullusinverbastte.comitexto-a-gumentatvoinverse-problams-captuo-\-the-conceptot--problemfbeld=WARZHLgIRKL2IFASAYAVE-OIBdQJ... 1/29 2182019 Rk. 2IFASAY WE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Caplio 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin vba ste big open problem in current biomedical research is to find the causes and effective treatments of Alzheimer’s disease - clearly an inverse problem, since working on it takes reserchers from observable symptoms, such as behavioral and cognitive deficits, to unobservable cellular or molecular processes, such as protein misfoldings and mutations. A scientific approach to this problem is likely to rely on recent studies of brain degeneration, and the efficiency of the proposed treatment will be estimated on the strength of experiments and statistical analyses. Whoever solves this problem is sure to earn a Nobel Prize. Incidentally, this prize is awarded for original findings or theories, not for improved data or computations, much less for debunking myths. Furthermore, arguably all the Nobel Prizes in the “hard” sciences have been awarded for solving big inverse problems. Scientific and technological investigators are often asked to rate research projects submitted by colleagues. Such ratings presuppose clear criteria on the worth of research. And this is an inverse problem, since it goes from the sketch of a conclusion to the hypotheses, data and methods likely to be used in the course of the investigation in question. All too often, such valuations are hampered by the vulgar conception of the scientific method according to which it boils down to the sequence Observe - collect data - draw conclusions. But this is a cartoon of the scientific method, since every research problem consists in handling some problem or cluster of problems. Further, in any discipline observation is guided by ideas about what traits are worth being observed - for example, the concentrations of some neurotransmitters rather than the color of an assistant’s lab coat. A more realistic conception of scientific research is this: 2129 2182019 Rk. 2IFASAY WE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site Background — problem - conjecture — observation — conclusion ~ evaluation. Sometimes scientific theories initiate experimental research projects. For example, gravitational waves were first detected in 2016 because Einstein had conjectured their existence one century earlier. 1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT Problems arise and are stated and discussed in some context or against some background knowledge rather than in a vacuum. In other words, we begin every inquiry in the midst of the body of knowledge where the gap occurs and which supplies some of the very concepts occurring in the problem statement. Thus, someone with a physics background is able to state some physical problems, but maybe not research problems in genetics or even in the history of physics. In daily life we are called to undertake practical tasks, pieces of work that involve one’s whole being. In the present work, by contrast, we shall be concerned only with the idea of a conceptual problem detached from our circumstances. Our subject will then be located on the rarefied plane of abstractions, and thus far above the noisy fray studied by the psychologists and sociologists of knowledge. Edmund Husserl’s (1931: 28) famous contention, that his phenomenology is presuppositionless, is false because merely stating a problem in any field presupposes some of the related fields. For example, Husserl’s definition of ‘phenomenological reduction’ involves such tricky terms as ‘nature’, ‘experience’, ‘consciousness’, and ‘pretend’, every one of which evokes several fields. 3129 2182019 nullusinverbasitecom/texto-argumantativalinvarse-problams-capituo-1-the-concepl-of-a-problam/foclid=IWARZHLg kL 2IFASAYWE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Capiluo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Null in verba st True, we expound formal logic as the rootless discipline, or the first science, but nobody deny that historically it evolved in close contact with legal thinking and later with mathematics. We pretend that logic is the science that follows from nothing, just to emphasize that the logical principles are conceptually self-sufficient, even though we accept them because they work in practical reasoning — a virtuous circle. In other words, pure reason and real existence are the foci of a virtuous circle, or rather ellipse, formed by two arcs: the Cartesian or rationalist Cogito, ergo sum, and the Aristotelian or empiricist Sum, ergo cogito. The full ellipse symbolizes the ratioempiricist synthesis. In sum, there are no radical or absolute beginnings: every start happens in medias res. In particular, serious work in any field is heteronomous or indebted to other fields, whereas fraud, in particular pseudoscience, is autonomous or self-sufficient. For example, alchemy makes no use of chemistry, and computational psychology is independent of cognitive neuroscience. Beware of isolates other than the universe as a whole. In the conceptually advanced fields, which by definition contain formalized theories, some problems can be stated and handled in mathematical terms. This feature not only narrows vagueness, which facilitates rational debate and enhances testability, but also makes it possible to access the vast fund of mathematics. Mathematization not only facilitates problem resolution: it may also generate fresh problems, such as those of finding formal similarities as well as invariances under coordinate changes. In sum, every non-trivial problem is a component of a whole cluster of interdependent issues, among them the philosophical presuppositions common to all scientific inquiries, such as the philosophical assumptions of the reality and knowability of the outside world. If these 4129 2182019 nullusinverbasitecom/texto-argumantativalinvarse-problams-capituo-1-the-concepl-of-a-problam/foclid=IWARZHLg kL 2IFASAYWE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nutfus in verba ste assumptions are removed, the gates to fiction are opened. 1.2 LOGIC OF PROBLEMS In all fields we find problems of many kinds, in particular problems of knowing, planning, forecasting, doing, valuing, and communicating. Regardless of the kind or nature of a problem, the following aspects of it may be distinguished: (a) the problem itself regarded as an item on a par with data, commands, rules, and emotional utterances (the epistemological aspect); (b) the act of questioning (the psychological aspect), and (c) the expression of the problem by a set of declarative, interrogative or imperative sentences in some language (the linguistic aspect). Ideas of three kinds are involved in discussing any problem: the background or antecedent, the generator, and the solution in case it exists. Consider the problem “Who is the boss here?” It presupposes that there is a boss rather than a collegial governing body; it is generated by the propositional function “x is the boss;” and it induces a solution of the form “c is the boss”, where c names a specific individual or group. (Remember that a propositional function is a formula containing at least one free variable, and which becomes a proposition when its variables are assigned definite values.) Every problem arises and is posed against some bakground constituted by the antecedent knowledge, in particular the specific presuppositions of the problem. The presuppositions are the statements that are somehow involved but not questioned in the statement of the problem or the inquiry prompted by it. Furthermore, 529 2182019 Rk. 2IFASAY WE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site every problem may be regarded as generated by a definite set of formulas. We call generator of a problem the propositional function which yields the problem in question upon application of the operator “?” one or more times. Finally, every problem induces a set of formulas - the solution to the problem - which, when inserted into the problem’s statement, convert the latter into a set of statements with definite truth-values - true, false, or half-true. In other words, our initial problem is “Which is the x such that x is the boss?,” or (?x)Bx for short. The generator of this problem is Bx, and its main presupposition is “Some x are Bs”, or (3x)Bx”, whereas the solution’s form is Bc, where c names the inquirer. From a logical point of view, then, we have the following sequence: (1) presupposition (3x)Bx; (2) generator Bx; problem (?x)Bx; (3) solution Bc. At first sight a question such as “is p true?” does not fit the preceding schema, for it is generated by p itself, which is supposed to be a proposition, not a propositional function. Yet clearly “?p” may be reworded as “What is the truth-value of the function V at p?”. In symbols, “(?v)V(p) =v”, where V maps propositions p into their truth-values v. If the latter are just truth (or +1) and falsity (or -1), V degenerates into the ordinary valuation function — the original question will not have been modified by the preceding restatement. But if V is allowed to take further values within those bounds, as in the case of the factual sciences, then clearly the new formulation of the problem is more general than the unsophisticated “Is p true?,” which presupposes that a proposition can be just true or false. In any case, truth- value questions presuppose some theory of truth or other, and they are questions about the possible values of a function. 629 2182019 Rk. 2IFASAY WE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulus in vera site 1.3 Problem forms The blanks occurring in the statement of a problem may be individual variables or predicate variables. In the question “Who discovered America?,” generated by the propositional function “D(x,a), the unknown is the individual variable x. In contrast, a problem such as “What does c look like?” directs us to search for the cluster P of properties, perhaps so far unknown, that make up the manifest properties of the individual c. We shall symbolize this question form as “(?P)Pc. The questions asking for the value(s) of one or more individual values may be called individual values problems, whereas the ones asking for the values of one or more predicate values may be called functional problems. We postulate that every elementary problem is of either of these two kinds. What about the problem form “Does the individual c have the property represented by the predicate P,” in which no variable is in sight? Actually the value is there but hidden: It is the proposition “c has the property P.” Indeed, the given problem is generated by the function “The truth-value of the statement “c has the property P is v”, and the solution to the problem consists in finding the precise value of v. Therefore the explicit formulation of the problem is: “What is the truth-value of the proposition “c has the property BP”? All the problems concerning universality and particularity or someness can be regarded as questions about the truth-values of the corresponding statements. Thus, the question “Are there gravitons?” can be restated as “Is it true that there are gravitons?” and, more 1129 2182019 Rk. 2IFASAY WE-OIBd9J. Inverse problems. Caplio 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin vba ste precisely, “What is the truth-value of the assertion that there are gravitons?” (The reader may rightly suspect that here we are skirting the question whether 3 should be read as “there exists” or rather “some”. Such as ax Likewise, “Is everything material changeable?” is equivalent to “Is it true that ‘everything material is changeable’ is true?”. And what about “What is P,?” where ‘P’ denotes a predicate constant such as “spin” or “vector potential”. Here too a variable is missing and must be dug up in order to complete the question. In fact, what is being asked is “Which are the poperties P of A, or “(?P)(PA)”, where ‘P’ stands for a cluster of predicates of order higher than A. And this is a functional problem, the answer to which is constituted by a set of statements predicating definite properties of A - for instance, that A is symmetric in one or more coordinates. A moral we extract from the above cases, all of them characterized by the seeming absence of certain vaiables, is clear: Do not let yourself be misguided by ordinary language, and always dig for the variable(s). Note also that the question mark ?, which we are handling as a primitive term, always bears on an unknown or variable. Further, “?” does not bind the variable on which it acts: merely asking a question does not answer it. Only the answer, i.e. the solution, will be free from unbound variables. The following Table 1.1 lists some typical elementary problems. This table is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Table 1.1 Elementary problem forms. Problem kind Question Form Solution form 2129 2182019 Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulus in vera site Individual Which-problem Which is (or are) the x (?x)Ax K=6d, 0. such that Ax? Where-problem At what place is (@x)[Ac B Be=x] x=d the c such that Ac? Why-problem Which is the p such that q because p? (2p)(p Pq) pe Whether-problem What is the truth- value of p? @v)IV@)=v) vea Functional How-problem: How does c, which is an A, happen? (2P)[Ac b Pe] What-problems Which are the properties of c? (2P)Pe Which are the properties of the property A? (2P)PA 14 Formation rules A single unknown occurs in each of the problem forms listed in Table 1.2, but none in the answers. This characerizes the well-defined, definite, or determinate problems, in contrast with the ill- defined, indefinite, or indeterminate ones. The latter have indeterminate answers, that is, nuliusinverbastte.comitexto-a-gumentatvoinverse-problams-captuo-\-the-conceptot-a-problemfbeld=WARZHLgIRKL2IFASAYAVE-OIBdQJ.... 9/29 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin veba ste solutions involving free variables. A determinate question has a single answer with no unknowns, but the answer may consist of a combination of statements. For example, the question om? - x =0) consists of two members, namely the roots,0 and 1 of the equation. In contrast, the problem (?x)(x- x + y =0) is indeterminate because the variable y remains free even after fixing x. But it can be rendered determinate either by assigning y a definite value or by prefixing to it a quantifer or a question mark bearing on the second variable. In fact, (? x(x” - x + y = 0 is a determinate question with an answer consisting of infinitely many ordered pairs . In short, a determinate problem has a single answer with no free variables, which can be either single-membered as in the case of “What is the value of y = x for x: 0.001,? or many-membered, as in the case of “Which are the social classes in the USA?” is the assignment symbol, not to be confused with the identity symbol =.) Definite answers can be gotten provided definite questions are asked. For instance, the question “How long is this rod?” will have a single answer on condition that ‘this’ is an unambiguous name in the given context, and that the reference frame, the length unit, the temperature and the pressure are specified. Likewise, “Where is c?” is not quite determinate, for a name (in this case c) does not individualize anything save in a context; we must specify the cluster of properties A that individuate c, and ask accordingly “Where is the c such that c is an A?, or “Given that c is an A, where is c?”. Assuming that position can be specified by an ordered n- tuple of coordinate values, the form of the question, once completed, would be “(?n)(An PBn). In short, all of the variables occurring in the statement of a problem should be displayed 10129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin veba ste explicitly in order to ensure its determinteness, unless the context makes it clear what the values of such variables are. The preceding informal remarks may be summarized in the folowing Definition 1.1 The statement of a problem is well formed if and only if it satisfies the following formation rules Rule 1.1 The generator contains as many variables as unknowns. Rule 1.2 AS many questions as varibles are prefixed to the generator. Rule 1.3 Every elementary well-formed problem has either of the following forms: (x2)... x... CP.. od) where x is the individual variable and P the predicate variable in the generator. Rule 1.4 Every non-elementary well-formed problem is a combination of well-formed elementary problems. When the problem arises in a context dominated by equations, an additional condition is usually added to those that define a well-defined problem, namely that the number of unknowns must not exceed that of conditions. However, this requirement did not deter some ancient Greek and Arabic mathematicians from working on Diophantine equations, such as ax + by = c, which violate the said condition. 1.5 Problems combinations s1n9 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Caplio 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin vba ste Let us elucidate the meaning of the expression ‘problems combination’ occurring above. Call n(x) an elementary individual problem, and n(P) an elementary functional problem. The two problem forms can be subsumed under a single one by abstracting from the variable type, i.e., by introducing the concept v of variable tout court, as in m (v) = (2v)Gv, where G(v) is the problem generator. Let now (?v4)Gvyand (?vz)Gvz be two elementary problems that we wish to combine, such as “Where did that doctor study?” and “What is the specialty of that doctor?” If we intend to solve either problem, we write n(vy,v2) = n(vy)vel n(vg); and if we plan to solve both problems at a stroke, we write m(vz,vz) = n(vy) et n(vz). In the first case we face a disjunctive problem, and in the second a conjunctive one. The solution to a disjunctive problem will be the disjunction of the solutions of its components, i.e. s(a,b)= s(a)Us(b). If the problem is conjunctive, its solution will be the conjunction of the solutions to the component problems just in case the variables v; and vz are separable. If the variables refer to two interacting parts of a whole, no such separation or analysis will be possible. For example, the degree of integration or inclusion of an individual in her society is a function of intrinsic properties such as sociability, and dyadic properties such as the distance in status between two persons, as in manager and employee, or officer and private. Note that the possibility of analysis is an ontological as well as an epistemological question. Hence the limited scope of both individualism and analytical philosophy: they hold only when the totalities they study are conglomerates rather than systems or organized totalities. In other words, interaction U non-separation of variables,;whence the drastic limitation of 12129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin veba ste analysis. However, this caution won’t deter the individualists who still rule the social studies. On the basis of the binary functors vel and et we can analyze problems of an arbitrary complexity, though subject to the above-mentioned limitation. For example, a three-variables problem may be analyzed in one of the following ways: my velngvelm3, myet m2 et 13 my vel (mz et 13), m4 et (ny vel 13) The preceding formulas can be rewritten as follows: ny vel (nz et 13), (my vel ng) et (nyvel 3) ny et (mgvel m3), (my et mg) vel (mq et 73) Clearly, the functors vel and et obey the associative and commutative laws. So far the analogies between problems and statements are apparent. They can be stretched further by introducing the concept of negate of a problem, expressed by a negative question. We do it through the following Definition 1.1 If G(v) is the generator of x(v), then non-n(v) = (?v)[@ccwv)]. It is often advantageous to switch from the given problem to its negate. For Instance, “Which chemical elements are noble?” may be replaced by “Which chemical elements enter into chemical compounds?” With the concept of negate of a problem and with the assistance of the above formulas many problems can analyzed into the conjunction (disjunction) of disjunctions (conjunctions) of simpler problems. 13129 2182019 problem foclid=IWARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBAS. Inverse problems. Caplio 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin vba ste In addition to the compounds brought about by the operations vel an et, we recognize the binary relations of problem implication and equivalence. We stipulate that m4 implies m2 just in case the generator of m1 implies the generator of m2 ; and we say that two problems are equivalent if their respective generators are equivalent. In symbols, Problem implication (m4 seq 2) U (GyPG2) Problem equivalence (m1 aeq m2) U (Gy0G2) The simplest case of problem equivalence is that where vy = Vg. An example of problem implication is this: the problem of finding the truth-value of a statement implies the problem of finding whether the same proposition is true. Here is a problem of problem equivalence: the task of deducing the conditional A b C from the premise P is equivalent to deriving the consequent C from the enriched premise P&A. In fact, m(?v4)[V(P |-A) = vy] and n(?v2)[V(P|-A) = vg]. Now, by the definition of entailment, G1 is equivalent to the statement that P b (A P C) is logically true (tautologous); and, by the law of exportation, P b (A P C) is equivalent to P & (A P C). Hence, saying that P b (A P C) is tautologous amounts to asserting that P&A Bb C is tautologous. But the latter is precisely Go. Q.E.D. Finally, if Gz is deducible from Gj, that is, if G1 entails Gp, we shall say that m(v) is stronger or harder than n(vg). In short, mz m2 O(Gy |-G2). For example, the dynamical problems are stronger than the corresponding kinematical ones since the generators (hence also the solutions) of the latter are derivable from the corresponding generators of the former. For example, Newton’s laws of planetary orbits are Kepler’s laws. Obviously, whereas in daily life we are justified in 4129 2182019 problem foclid=IWARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBAS. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site skirting the harder problems, in science one should prefer to investigate the stronger questions, since these will lead to the stronger solutions. 1.6 Decision problems The partition of problems into individual and functional applies only to elementary or atomic problems. Rule 1.4 allows for the statement of non-elementary of molecular poblems, some of which may be individual with regard to some variables and functional with regard to others. Our classification of elementary problem forms cuts across the alternative groupings proposed in the course of history. The best known of these are Aristotle’s and Pappus’s. Aristotle distinguished between what problems, or questions of fact, and whether problems or dialectical questions. However, from a formal point of view there is no big difference between the problem of fact “What is the distance between a and b?, and the dialectical problem “Does a imply b.? In fact, both are individual problems: the former asks what the value of the function D at a couple is, and the latter what the value of the function at a different couple is. The difference is not logical but methodological, since the answer to each problem calls a method of its own. The ancient Greek mathematician Pappus of Alexandria drew a distinction between problems of construction, such as “Find the average of a set of numbes”, and problems of proof, included in whether problems. Two millennia later, George Polya (1945) rechristened them problems to find and problems to prove, and worked out this distinction. Incidentally, no new ideas about the concept of a problem seem to have arisen during 15129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin veba ste the nearly 2,000 years that separate Georgy Polya (1945) from Pappus (c. 340 P.E.). What about decision questions, that is, problems the answer to which is either a straight ‘yes’ or a straight ‘no’? These questions are special cases of individual problems and particularly of those involving truth- values, such as “Is p true?” and “Does the individual t belong in the set T,?” which reduces to the former when p takes the particular form “t iT”. Whether a given problem belongs to this category is a methodological problem, because only the means at hand and the goal in view will help us answer the original question. There is more to it. Consider the problem “How tall is individual c?,” where c names a definite person. No matter how sophisticated an altimeter may be chosen, in principle the problem may be broken down into a finite sequence of questions of the form “Does c’s crown fall between the scratches n and n+1 of that yardstick?” An improvement in accuracy will enable us to ask more questions of this kind and therefore to come closer to the supposedly unique truth. But because every measurement comes with a non-vanishing error, there will be a finite number of decision questions to ask. This finiteness is of course necessary for the procedure to be effective, that is, performable in a finite number of steps. A completely exact solution would require infinitely many such unit steps, and is thus humanly unattainable. A desideratum of the laboratory scientist and the applied mathematician is that, no matter a hard problem may be, it can eventually be reduced to a finite sequence of yes- or-no problems. However, every achievement of such a methodological triumph hides an epistemological defeat: a strong problem, such as identifying a particular member of a nondenumerably infinite set, has been 16129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site replaced by a finite set of weak problems, such as asking to decide whether a given individual belongs to a given set. There is no alternative: either we take the solution to the weaker problem or we are left with the unsolved stronger problem. 1.7 Semantic and pragmatic issues Let us now turn to a semantic aspect of problems. The rules 1.1 to 1.4 are necessary but not sufficient to secure determinate answers, that is, solutions with a unique (though not necessarily single-membered) answer. In fact, a problem may be well formed but its background may by defective or just vaguely indicated. For example, the question “Is p true?,” though well-formed, may not presuppose that p can have only two truth-values, which is by no means obvious since p may be true in one system but not in another. Likewise “What is the melting point of sulphur?” has a single melting point regardless of its crystalline structure — which is false. In other cases the presupposition is deeply hidden. For example, “Why something rather than nothing?” presupposes that God asked Himself this question while he was asking Himself whether or not to create the universe. Hence the answer depends crucially on the questioner’s faith. The defective formulation of a problem may hinder or even prevent proper inquiry. This is the case with Heidegger’s “What is being?,” or its equivalent “What is it to be,?” which belongs in the same class as “What moves motion?” The defective formulation of a problem - that is, the raising of an ill-formed issue - may launch research on a fruitless path. An example is the question “What is the guarantee of truth?,” which has sparked endless fruitless speculation since antiquity. We should have learned that, although truth is attainable, it does 1129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site not come with a truth warrant, if only because there is no guarantee that such a warrant is possible. Let us lay down the following conventions regarding the background of problems, starting with the following Definition 1.3 A problem is well-conceived (or well-backed) = none of its presuppositions is either manifestly false or undecided in the same context. We also need Definition 1.4 A problem is well formulated = the problem is both well-formulated and well- conceived. With these conventions in mind we formulate our last prescription: Rule 1.5 Every problem shall be well- formulated. A well-posed problem will be determinate or well- defined: by displaying all the relevant items, it will suggest what further searches may help solve it. Yet it would be naive to suppose that merely abiding by Rules 1.1 to 1.5 will warrant our asking only well-formulated questions, if only because it is seldom easy to unearth all the presuppositions of a problem. Even in a formalized theory only the presuppositions acknowledged by the theorist will be listed. And except in trivial cases such a list is likely to be incomplete, for some advances are made by discovering that some formula is either needed or dispensable. Consequently, a formula that has been accepted as well formulated or meaningful may turn out, upon closer examination, to be ill-conceived. Rigor would seem to require an examination of the presuppositions of every presupposition, and so on until the ultimate presuppositions are reached - or not. This is possible, at least in principle, in mathematics: here there are plenty of self-contained theories, so we can dig up until reaching a fundamental theory such as 18129 2182019 problem Mfoclid=WARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBdS. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulusin vera site set theory or category theory. In contrast, in factual science it is still unknown whether there are any basic theories underneath quantum mechanics or quantum electrodynamics. In factual matters the pattern may be a net rather than a rooted tree, and in any case it will always be premature to legislate in this respect. Instead of looking for final theories we should secure the right to proceed in each case as far as required. Stated negatively: we should abstain from postulating ultimate assumptions. Just recall the evglution of evolutionary biology in the course of the 20 century: inclusion of macroevolution, and the fusion with ecology first and developmental biology later on. In sum, science has foundations but these may be temporary. Because presuppositions are not immutable, there are no inherently well-conceived problems. For instance, an operationalist should dismiss any questions about the state of the interstellar space because the placement and operation of measuring instruments destroys the original void. The realist has no such scruples, and consequently welcomes the data about space obtained by astronauts, and even more so the data collected by unmanned space probes. Change the context or background, and the meaningfulness of a question may change accordingly. And, since the context may change, it would be foolish to dismiss certain questions as inherently and therefore everlastingly meaningless. It is wiser to adopt a humbler attitude, and acknowledge either that the problem does not interest us at the moment, or that it may be interesting but premature, i.e., that the tools for handling it are yet to be built. This humbler attitude towards open problems does not kill them, but defers their treatment until the proper tools are available, The Pavlovians and behaviorists would not have deserved the reproaches of the so-called 19129 2182019 problem foclid=IWARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBAS. Inverse problems. Capitulo THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nullusin veba ste humanistic psychologists if, instead of dismissing the mental as “metaphysical”, they had stated that their self-imposed limitation was not ontological but methodological: that they started by studying elementary facts such as memory, conditioning and aversion because such basic problems had to be solved before the higher functions, such as imagination and delusion, could even be posed. Bogus science and antiscience thrive not only on ignorance and the deliberate attempt to supress enlightenment, but also on the stubborn refusal, by scientists, to even consider perfectly legitimate though perhaps premature questions such as that of the existence of free will. Note also that well-formedness, though desirable, is not enough to justify the expense involved in a state of the art experiment or expedition. People will try to find funding for such operations only if they are strongly motivated to work on the underlying problems. Besides, such motivation will depend on the originality of the problem, and the theoretical or practical utility of its solution. This remarks prompts us to add that, other things being equal, in science one should always prefer to wrestle with the more original and promising problems. The justification of the originality clause is that the result of one’s research should enrich the extant knowledge instead of just confirming it. And the promissority clause underlies the requirement that the output of any scientific effort should be worth at least as much as its input. 1.8 Problematics 20129 2182019 problem foclid=IWARZHLgt Rk. 21FASAYAVE-QIBAS. Inverse problems. Capitulo 1 THE CONCEPT OF A PROBLEM | Nulus in vera site The problematics of a field is the set of ideas and procedures that, far from being above criticism, raise problems worth being investigated. The degree of maturity of a discipline may be estimated by the state of its problematics. A discipline with more problems than achivements is immature, while one without problems is either embryonic or already spent. For example, accounting hardly raises any research problems, while quantum physics keeps sparking off interesting controversies. A practical spinoff of the preceding is this: those who need a voluminous c.v. to get or keep a job should work on unproblematic subjects, while those who look for intellectual stimulation should work on problematic subjects. (__we gusta 152) [compartc] 2 Comentarios 2n9