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PSissy comments on Disputing Definitions - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 February 2008 12:15AM

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Comment author: PSissy 23 December 2016 02:51:50AM 0 points [-]

I hope you'll forgive me for creating an account two years later after you created one four years later.

If the catalog offered a "blegg" for sale, with no further information, then the definition of "blegg" itself would very much be an important issue in the ensuing lawsuit. If "blegg" generally means something that contains vanadium and is egg-shaped, but the one sold and delivered is neither, then the actual definition would be important in determining whether the buyer was scammed. The question is not "what did you want from the blegg", it's "what is a blegg, and is that what was sent by the company".

If I order a "bicycle" from a catalog and the product comes with one triangular wheel and no seat, then it very much matters that the commonly used definition of "bicycle" is "a conveyance with two round wheel and a place to sit", and that would be a valid basis for suing the fraudulent company. It doesn't matter "what I want from" the bicycle. I might want a convenient mode of human-powered transportation, or I might want a frame of welded metal. But the fact is the company did not deliver what was advertised.