Reasoning with Partial Knowledge
51 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2008
Date Written: May 2000 7,
We investigate how sociological argumentation differs from the classical first-order logic. We focus on theories about age dependence of organizational mortality. The overall pattern of argument does not comply with the classical monotonicity principle: adding premises does not overturn conclusions in an argument. The cause of nonmonotonicity is the need to derive conclusions from partial knowledge. We identify meta-principles that appear to guide the observed sociological argumentation patterns, and we formalize a semantics to represent them. This semantics yields a new kind of logical consequence relation. We demonstrate that this new logic can reproduce the results of informal sociological theorizing and lead to new insights. It allows us to unify existing theory fragments and paves the way towards a complete classical theory.
Keywords: logic of theory building, non-monotonicity, social science methodology, organizational mortality respectively
JEL Classification: M, M10, L2
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