[e2e] Protocols breaking the end-to-end argument

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Sun Oct 25 10:13:48 PDT 2009

On 10/25/2009 12:10 PM, L.Wood at surrey.ac.uk wrote:
> > So let's not study wars and battles.  Let's study architectural
> > principles and their application.
> So it is a principle after all, then?
> (It strikes me that if one is aspiring to be Darwin one shouldn't
> also have to be Dawkins.)
To be precise, the end-to-end argument refers to a class of arguments, 
with a few free variables.   Jerry and I (and perhaps Dave) have long 
been students of a thing called "rhetoric".   In classical rhetoric (a 
la Aristotle), one discusses what kinds of arguments are valid.  Logic 
is a part of rhetoric, but rhetoric as a whole includes many other 
aspects of argumentation.

Linking rhetoric to formal logic, the end-to-end argument would be one 
of a set of "rules of inference" - acceptable combinators that take 
other factors into account and provide new valid statements.

Substituting for the free variables in the end-to-end argument provides 
a large set of implied valid statements.

Now rhetoric includes the mechanisms for argumentation where there is 
not one "truth".  In fact, in general, rhetoric handles cases where one 
line of argumentation supports a particular decision, and another line 
supports a different decision.  Therefore, rhetoric has been part of the 
general set of tools that lawyers use for argumentation - there is no 
guarantee that all laws are consistent, nor are their set of valid 
arguments complete in the sense of deciding every case.

Architecture is like that: it is why good systems architects need to 
understand rhetoric in all of its glory.

Examples of rhetoric:

The much misunderstood "ad hominem argument" - which is an argument that 
makes claims based on who is making a particular claim.  The term has 
been redefined in popular culture to mean "insult", but in fact it was 
never that.

The argument "post hoc ergo propter hoc".  That is the idea that 
"correlation equals causation" - John Day's argument that because of the 
date of publication, Jerry Dave and I must have invented the argument as 
part of some contemporaneous battle about network adoption.


I commend study of rhetoric to all.   It helps decode the rather strange 
logics that pervade discourse today.
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