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Ternality Theory

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How could this paradigm be verified?

Although the Principle of Verification, and even that of Refutation, are no longer regarded as such sharp razors as they once were, the positivist assault on metaphysics has left a suspicion about the kind of propositions that form the substance of this account of Ternality Theory. It is frequently asked by what principle such propositions as these may be verified. This is because they are more fundamental than the empirically verifiable propositions of science, being somewhere down in its philosophical foundations.

The verification is by heuristic productivity

In reply to this question, I suggest that the verification of such propositions lies in their heuristic productivity—which is still an empirical matter. As with most scientists most of the time, the general philosophical position as to the relation of scientific concepts to reality which we are adopting in this exposition is what philosophers call 'realist'. However, it would be surprising if a new ontology yielded testable hypotheses. But what it can and ought to do is enable existing knowledge to be clarified, arranged neatly in a form that can be easily handled, and put in a state such that new knowledge can be discovered. When we have dug down this deep, the function of our propositions has become what philosophers call 'instrumental'.

Productivity in cybernetics

Looking at the record of success of the various parts of cybernetics, it is obvious that much progress has been made with systems that are governoid or designoid, by action internal to themselves. Examples would be in artificial intelligence and in evolutionary biology. But far less progress has been made with systems that are governed or designed by an agent external to themselves. Examples would be in management cybernetics and in the cybernetics of politics.

It is as if the heuristic process is held up by the lack of a proper way of comparing theorising with reality—and a lack of proper foundations to provide heuristic productivity. The object of Ternality Theory is to propose a remedy to this situation.


Figure button   The quadrants of cybernetics


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© Copyright D J Stewart 1998, 2003. All rights reserved.

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