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Re: [ontolog-forum] Copyright in Taxonomies: Leading case in US law (ADA

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 11:41:04 -0400
Message-id: <4CCAEB10.4080400@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Peter and Chris,    (01)

>> Can you point me to a “classification *system*” that is not
>> human-created?    (02)

> Of course not.  No one is disputing that.  The disputed claim is that
> no such systems "reflect any 'natural' objective truth or set of
> 'facts'". That is an utter non sequitur.    (03)

That depends on whether the judge is a nominalist or a realist.    (04)

Nominalists claim that scientific theories are just summaries
of observations.  Since it is possible to copyright a collection
or arrangement of facts, one might claim that it's reasonable
to copyright a summary of that collection.    (05)

Realists (who include most practicing scientists) believe that
theories that make predictions whose accuracy has been tested
by experiments reflect some reality that is independent of how
we think about it.  Such a tested theory would be considered
factual.  A classification that is part of the theory would be
just as factual as the full theory.    (06)

> What's the point of observation and calculation if there are no
> objective truths? What we observe is a world that pushes back, that
> puts constraints on what we can say, and which cannot be structured
> and described in any way that we choose. It is, at the least, a
> credible position that the reason for this is that the world itself
> exhibits a structure that we strive to capture in our classification
> systems and that classifications succeed to the extent that they get
> that structure right.    (07)

That's a good summary of the realist position.    (08)

>> I’m not suggesting that Lakoff settled anything but at least he
>> and Rosch highlighted and criticised the absence of any serious
>> scientific inquiry into “classical” classification (folk) theory
>> that Western philosophy has unquestioningly assumed and taken as
>> axiomatic for more than two millennia before Wittgenstein started
 >> to question it.    (09)

> If really think W. has been that influential in contemporary philosophy
> of science you need to read a bit more widely.    (010)

I have a lot of sympathy with what George L. and Eleanor R. said and
even more sympathy with what Ludwig W. said in his later philosophy.
My major criticism of George and Eleanor is their exaggerated claims
of novelty.  Following is a review I wrote of one of George's books:    (011)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/lakoff.htm    (012)

In Section 2 of the following paper, I have quotations from a debate
between William Whewell and J. S. Mill.  Whewell's statement of 1858
is a very clear summary of what Rosch stated over a century later:    (013)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/cogcat.htm    (014)

In fact, Aristotle made similar points long before.  At the beginning
of that section, I summarized what Aristotle said in his biological
writings:    (015)

> But in his biological works, [Aristotle] criticized the limitations of
> the top-down approach and recommended a bottom-up approach beginning
> with a detailed description of individuals, classifying them in
> species, and grouping species in genera. He considered the top-down
> method appropriate for presenting the results of analysis and reasoning
> about them, but he recommended the bottom-up method as a better discovery
> procedure for investigating a new subject.    (016)

John    (017)

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