[Taxacom] Clade age

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Mon Nov 14 13:06:21 CST 2011

Agreeing on definitions is a tyrrany?  It seems to me that only someone 
with an agenda to be hidden would believe that definitions are 
tyrranical.  Agree on a set of definitions, then lay out an argument 
based on the agreed upon definitions.  Only then can others evaluate the 
argument in an appropriate context.  It is not sufficient to say that 
others are well aware of your viewpoint.  It is incumbent on you, the 
speaker/writer, to ensure that there is no confusion with respect to 
what is meant.

Dick J

On 11/14/2011 1:33 PM, John Grehan wrote:
> Here is someone trying to impose the tyranny of definitions. Sure, an
> explanation of what one means by a term is helpful, but then only in as
> much as there is a shared understanding about the context. People argue
> over definitions all the time, but whether such arguments really solve
> anything or not is another matter. The perennial species definition
> arguments are a nice case in point.
> I have seem little sing of confusion about my 'definitions' or anything
> else. The usual response is that others are all too well aware of my
> viewpoint and understand it well enough to usually disagree very
> strongly without any (apparent) confusion whatsoever.
> John Grehan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Jensen
> Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 11:41 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Clade age
> Curtis,
> Unfortunately, the one thing you and John agree on is a mistake.
> Definitions do matter.  They are essential for understandable
> communication.  If you are allowed to define "science" by your criteria,
> and I am allowed to define it by a different set of properties, then how
> can we ever communicate effectively?  It's the old apples and oranges
> (and, no, I'm not a Herman Cain supporter) confusion.  Both are fruits
> and share a variety of properties, but they are not, by definition, the
> same thing!
> John has made this argument before and it appears to be part of the
> problem in communicating with him.  His definitions often are quite
> different from those that many (most!) of us use and that only serves to
> create confusion and a lot of unnecessary exchanges on Taxacom.
> Cheers,
> Dick J
> On 11/11/2011 11:06 PM, Curtis Clark wrote:
>> On 11/11/2011 5:52 PM, John Grehan wrote:
>>> Which is why definitions don't matter.
>> And at last we agree.

Richard J. Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674

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