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Caledonian2 comments on Where to Draw the Boundary? - Less Wrong

36 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 February 2008 07:14PM

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Comment author: Caledonian2 23 February 2008 12:12:13AM -1 points [-]

"Once upon a time it was thought that the phrase "aquatic animal" included dolphins. Now you could play the oh-so-clever arguer, and say, "The list: {Salmon, guppies, sharks, dolphins, trout} is just a list - you can't say that a list is wrong. I can prove in set theory that this list exists. So my definition of aquatic, which is simply this extensional list, cannot possibly be 'wrong' as you claim."

Or you could stop playing nitwit games and admit that dolphins don't belong on the aquatic animal list."

Quoted and altered for emphasis.

If we reject the idea that the conventional meaning of words should restrict us, why is it a 'nitwit game' to call dolphins, fish? 'Fish' can mean whatever we like it to - just because the word is used in science to refer to things that aren't mammals doesn't mean we have to use it that way.

This seems to be a little consistency problem.