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fuzzylogic #3 heaps
>But Peter still fails to set an independent, nonsubjective criteria for
>distinguishing hills from mountains or heaps from nonheaps. Peter seems
>to be using the same approach Ed Meese used to define pornography, "I
>know it when I see it." Surely language, even natlangs, can accomplish
>more than that!
Language cannot overcome psychology. If we wanted to make some
objective criteria to distinguish hills from mountains, we could do so
(though I note that Lojban uses the same gismu for both %^). Obviously,
at boundary conditions, definitions break down, as you cited with your
The standard of lexicography sees that language use of a content word
shows a scattering of meanings over the possible semantic space.
Dictionary definitions are words to cover an *arbitrary* "most-of" that
range of meanings.
And why should language "want to"? So you can turn a hill into a
mountain at the boundary conditions, by the use of a shovel. Presumably
you would be doing so because some real world action/decision hinges on
the whether the object is considered one or the other. What benefit do
you gain by defining "mountainhood" as a scale? You would simply
require the resulting real world decisions/actions to set some standard
for decision based on the fuzzy logic values, and then, for whatever
granularity you set, someone can use a shovel to put you across a
ordinal boundary and possibly into another decision state. Only an
infinitely continuous scale eliminates this argument, and it requires an
infinite continuity of decision responses, which is seldom possible.
The most important events in our lives are binary - birth, death,
marriage. There exists some plausible fuzziness even for these
(especially where it concerns medical ethics), but for everyday people
who are the ones who make the language work, fuzziness just makes it
harder to make decisions, even if it would make the decisions more