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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: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 21:04:26 -0400
Message-id: <4CCCC09A.6010107@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Peter and Chris,    (01)

I'd just like to make a few comments about these issues.    (02)

> I suggested only that he had *started* to pick away
> at the “folk theory” of classification that had been around
> and been unquestioningly assumed for so long. Lakoff wasn’t
> necessarily original but he is to be commended for bringing
> the work of many critics of this ‘classical’ approach to
> a wider audience than navel-gazing philosophers.    (03)

Lakoff's book had a lot of cute examples, but he was criticizing
straw men, since he didn't quote any philosophers who stated
any of the positions he was criticizing.  Can you name a single
"navel gazing" philosopher who assumed any of the positions
Lakoff criticized -- either with or without questioning them?    (04)

Aristotle's syllogisms are rather abstruse to be called a folk
theory, and even he said that they could not be applied to
experimental evidence "unquestioningly".    (05)

For example, following is what Kant said in his lecture notes
for the course he taught each year about Aristotle's logic:    (06)

> Since the synthesis of empirical concepts is not arbitrary
> but based on experience, and as such can never be complete
> (for in experience ever new characteristics of the concept
> can be discovered), empirical concepts cannot be defined.
> Thus only arbitrarily made concepts can be defined
> synthetically. Such definitions... could also be called
> declarations, since in them one declares one's thoughts
> or renders account of what one understands by a word. This
> is the case with mathematicians.    (07)

Kant clearly said that you can't expect complete, airtight
definitions for anything but mathematical concepts (or
other arbitrary stipulations).  And he said that even in
his course about Aristotelian logic.  I'm sure that Kant
might find Lakoff's examples amusing, but he wouldn't
find anything in them that contradicted any of his claims.    (08)

> You [PFB] suggested the periodic table was copyrightable.   That
> suggests it is a classification system. And it is certainly tidy.
> But most scientists would agree that it is also an objectively
> discernible and testable natural classification, wouldn't they?    (09)

The facts represented in the periodic table could not be copyrighted,
but there is an open-ended number of styles for drawing the table.
Following is an arrangement with jazzy graphics that one could
certainly copyright:    (010)

    http://www.ptable.com/    (011)

And here's one that that has little pictures for each element:    (012)

    http://periodictable.com/    (013)

And here's a decorator-approved, tasteful wooden periodic table:    (014)

    http://theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/    (015)

These and many more examples came up on the first several Google
hits for "periodic table".  They all have a lot in common, but
no two of them are identical in style, and it's hard to find
any two that state exactly the same selection of content.    (016)

> Copyright is basically an essential claim by a human agent
> to be identified and recognised as the creator of some original
> piece of work.    (017)

Each of those examples cited above has an "original style" and
selection of content that makes it different from the others.
That's copyrigtable.  But the facts that go into the table aren't.    (018)

> The stench of moral outrage is no doubt invigorating to some but
> it really doesn’t have a place in this discussion.    (019)

I didn't notice anybody being outraged, morally or otherwise.  But
it's hard to tell from an email what intonation the author intended.    (020)

John    (021)

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