Thursday, December 02, 2004

vagaries of executive nomenclature: ethics

Writing about facts and values, David Weinberger introduces us to a scientist working on a means to gather all the scientific names for species into a useful database:
...there are 10 million names for the earth's 1.5 to 1.75 million identified species. That includes scientific names as well as common names in multiple languages and vernaculars.
If this exuberance holds true for scientific names, where there has been at least some effort to classify and systematize objects of inquiry, how much more phantasmagoric is language when it comes to the ordinary "facts" of everyday life?

It might be helpful if some exposure to the problem of names and reference, fact and value, episteme and doxa were provided to every man, woman and child before they are (a) elected to political office, (b) given the right to vote, (c) invited to use guns.


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