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Re: SCIENCE AND CLASSIFICATION



On Tue, 5 Feb 2002, philidor11 wrote:

> You observed:
> <On philidor's comment that we should try to make formal taxonomy match
> "common knowledge" (whatever that is) -- there are already hundreds of
> systems in regular usage which have the kind of fuzziness, intuitive
> definitions, and reliance on human perception which philidor seems to want.
> They're called human languages!>
>
> I admit that when I refer to the 'vernacular' I mean the use of people's
> actual language (and observations), as opposed to using the language they
> didn't know (in the Medieval period Latin, for instance) in order to reserve
> important knowledge to their betters.
> That's not the same thing as saying that the definition of, say, birds
> (Aves, in Latin) must be characterized by 'fuzziness, intuitive definitions,
> and reliance on human perception...'  Simplicity can be accurate.

True. "The most recent common ancestor of _Archaeopteryx lithographica_
ans _Passer domesticus_, plus all of its descendants," is simple and
precise. "You know ... a BIRD," is even simpler, but not at all precise.

What's your simple, precise definition of _Aves_? Or are you just trying
to define "bird"?

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