> Dr. Sowa,
> - An Elephant is an animal
> - Clyde is an elephant
> - Therefore Clyde is an animal
Fine. Now let us use our very limited vocabulary in the following way:
A citizen of a country is a person born in that country.
A person is an animal.
An elephant is an animal.
Clyde is an elephant.
Clyde was born in India.
Is Clyde a citizen of India?
Maybe. We can't deny the proposition.
The problem is
that we also need a vocabulary that provides the terms to
distinguish "person" from "elephant", and the definition of "person" has
to include those "distinguishing characteristics". A person is an
animal with some specific properties that distinguish "person" from
"elephant" and, more problematically, from "ape" (or not). Experience
teaches that it takes an enormous vocabulary to explicitly make all the
distinctions people's brains have learned to make. It is in making all
the necessary distinctions that the 2000-word vocabulary breaks down.
The alternative of course is that you only need an axiom: No person is
an elephant. But then you need a lot of axioms just to sort out
persons, elephants, tigers and mongoose. And the volume doubles when
you move to Australia.
Edward J. Barkmeyer
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263 Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263 FAX: +1 301-975-4694
"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."
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