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On some "family resemblances" of fuzzy set theory and human sciences

Settimo Termini

pp. 39-54

The aim of this paper is to underline the importance of detecting similarities or at least, "family resemblances' among different fields of investigation. As a matter of fact, the attention will be focused mainly on fuzzy sets and a few features of human sciences; however, I hope that the arguments provided and the general context outlined will show that the problem of picking up (dis)similarities among different disciplines is of a more general interest. Usually strong dichotomies guide out attempts at understanding the paths along which scientific research proceed; i.e., soft versus hard sciences, humanities versus the sciences of nature, Naturwissenschaften versus Geisteswissenschaften, Kultur versus Zivilization, applied sciences and technology versus fundamental, basic (or, as has become recently fashionable to denote it, "curiosity driven") research. However, the similarity or dissimilarity of different fields of investigation is - to quote Lotfi Zadeh - "a matter of degree". This is particularly evident in the huge, composite, rich and chaotic field of the investigations having to do with the treatment of information, uncertainty, partial and revisable knowledge (and their application to different problems). The specific points treated in this paper can be then seen as case studies of a more general crucial question. A question which could be important in affording also the problems posed by interdisciplinarity. The specific point of the interaction between fuzzy sets and human sciences can be seen as an episode of a larger question. There is a long history, in fact, regarding the mutual relationship existing between the (so-called) humanities and the (so-called) hard sciences, that has produced the so-called question of the two Cultures. At the end of the paper possible epistemological similarities between the development of Fuzzy Set theory and new emerging disciplines, like Trust Theory, will be briefly discussed.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-24672-2_2

Full citation:

Termini, S. (2012)., On some "family resemblances" of fuzzy set theory and human sciences, in R. Seising & V. Sanz González (eds.), Soft computing in humanities and social sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 39-54.

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