Re: clarifying clarifying ontologies (Eduard Hovy)
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 1995 11:32:09 -0700
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To: (Pat Hayes)
From: (Eduard Hovy)
Subject: Re: clarifying clarifying ontologies
Cc: (Fritz Lehmann),,,
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At 4:58 PM 7/28/95, Pat Hayes wrote:
>I agree that Joe shouldnt need to be bothered by issues like these. But he
>HAS to be, because if he is careless about them, he is going to get
>ensnared in inconsistency and (what seems like) paradox. ....  Joe
>Blow might not want to be concerned with all this, but he doesnt have the
>option, because even apparently quite ordinary, harmless assumptions turn
>out to committ him to taking a position in some "rarefied" debate.
>I think you have the idea that there is a kind of good robust common-sense
>middle ground which we ought to be able to get clear, and then there is a
>lot of exotic fussing which is of interest only to mathematicians, and is
>just a kind of intellectual decoration, angels-on-pinhead stuff. But this
>isnt how it works. The middle-road stuff DOESNT WORK PROPERLY....

It would be nice if there was a robust simple middle ground though, wouldn't 
it, in which one could operate at a tolerable level of ambiguity, and only 
descend into the exotic-fussy world on (rare) occasion.  It rather seems to 
me this is the way I myself work, and this is the feeling behind Fritz's 
comment.  If your claim is indeed true that operating on the "middle ground" 
just doesn't work for Joe Blow, then how have the Joe Blows (and me and my 
family and probably all the other people who ever lived) managed to survive 
for so many centuries without working out all the fine details?  And why do 
we find it so difficult to work them out when we try now?  

I suppose I am asking: why is it so scary to operate with a system that 
in its closure is ambiguous/incomplete/tolerant of paradox?  Clearly if 
the system's paradoxes surface too often the system is more of a nuisance 
than a help, but if they surface seldom enough I'd be quite happy (taking 
my cue from Joe Blow and all the rest of humanity).  


Eduard Hovy
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