Operators in Nature, Science, Technology, and Society: Mathematical, Logical, and Philosophical Issues

Philosophies 2 (3):21 (2017)


The concept of an operator is used in a variety of practical and theoretical areas. Operators, as both conceptual and physical entities, are found throughout the world as subsystems in nature, the human mind, and the manmade world. Operators, and what they operate, i.e., their substrates, targets, or operands, have a wide variety of forms, functions, and properties. Operators have explicit philosophical significance. On the one hand, they represent important ontological issues of reality. On the other hand, epistemological operators form the basic mechanism of cognition. At the same time, there is no unified theory of the nature and functions of operators. In this work, we elaborate a detailed analysis of operators, which range from the most abstract formal structures and symbols in mathematics and logic to real entities, human and machine, and are responsible for effecting changes at both the individual and collective human levels. Our goal is to find what is common in physical objects called operators and abstract mathematical structures, with the name operator providing foundations for building a unified but flexible theory of operators. The paper concludes with some reflections on functionalism and other philosophical aspects of the ‘operation’ of operators.

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

24 (#478,650)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

References found in this work

The Specious Present: A Neurophenomenology of Time Consciousness.Francisco Varela - 1999 - In Jean Petitot, Franscisco J. Varela, Barnard Pacoud & Jean-Michel Roy (eds.), Naturalizing Phenomenology. Stanford University Press. pp. 266--314.
Causation and Manipulability.James Woodward - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Interactivist Model.Mark H. Bickhard - 2009 - Synthese 166 (3):547 - 591.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Similar books and articles

Positive Set-Operators of Low Complexity.Athanossios Tzouvaras - 2003 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 49 (3):284.
The Logical Syntax of Deontic Operators.Alexander Broadie - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (127):116-126.
A Structuralist Account of Logic.Majda Trobok - 2008 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):257-265.
A Framework for Iterated Revision.Sébastien Konieczny & Ramón Pino Pérez - 2000 - Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics 10 (3-4):339-367.
The Operators of Vector Logic.Eduardo Mizraji - 1996 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 42 (1):27-40.
Located Operators.Bas Spitters - 2002 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 48 (S1):107-122.
Mixed Logic and Storage Operators.Karim Nour - 2000 - Archive for Mathematical Logic 39 (4):261-280.
Completing Pseudojump Operators.R. Coles, R. Downey, C. Jockusch & G. LaForte - 2005 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 136 (3):297-333.
Reconstruction of Contraction Operators.Sven Hansson - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):185-199.
An A-Theory Without Tense Operators.Meghan Sullivan - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):735-758.