Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"He seemed completely unable to grasp that I was talking about the conventional use of words..."

From Names Are Conventional at La Bocca della Verità:
Is Pluto a planet?

Pluto itself simply is what it is, and does what it does, regardless of what we call it. The question "Is Pluto really a planet?" is confused: The real question is, "Is our classification system more helpful to us if we classify Pluto as a planet, or if we do not?"

Astronomers recently decided that the right answer is: "Not." Given I am not an astronomer, I trust them, and suspect they made the right decision. But the question is completely different from one such as, "Does Pluto have an iron core?" or "What is the period of Pluto's orbit of the sun?" The latter two questions are about Pluto; the former question is about how we want to structure our language to make it the most useful to us.
Is this about the economy? Sure, because we talk about the economy, too.

Recommended reading.

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