QUALITATIVE LAWS 1)2)3)
Qualitative laws are generalizations of similar, but non-measurable properties. This is the basic mental process that leads to fundamentally new discoveries.
M. BODEN cites as an example: "The chemist GLAUBER (who) clarified the qualitative distinction between acids and alcalis, and between acids and bases (Bases include both alcalis and metals). He did so by classifying the experimental observations – including some produced in experiments he designed himself in a logically coherent way. He discovered, for instance, that every acid reacts with every alcali to form a salt" (1990, p. 197-8).
H. SIMON and colleagues have designed a program named GLAUBER that modelizes the discovery of qualitative laws "by classifying things according to their observable properties" (Ibid).
Qualitative laws are frequently the first step to quantitative ones. A good example is MENDEL's quantification of inheritance laws, that were already more or less known in qualitative terms by plants and animals empirical breeders.
In a more formal domain, R. THOM observed that topology is basically a qualitative branch of mathematics. Qualitative mathematical structures are interesting, even if not measurable (1991, p.79).
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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