Naive Physics Perplex

Ernest Davis


The "Naive Physics Manifesto" of Pat Hayes (1978) proposes a large-scale project to develop a formal theory encompassing the entire knowledge of physics of naive reasoners, expressed in a declarative symbolic form. The theory is organized in clusters of closely interconnected concepts and axioms. More recent work on the representation of commonsense physical knowledge has followed a somewhat different methodology. The goal has been to develop a competence theory powerful enough to justify commonsense physical inferences, and the research is organized in microworlds, each microworld covering a small range of physical phenomena. In this article, I compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches.

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