Re: Thomas' Fuzziness and Probability

From: S. F. Thomas (sfrthomas@yahoo.com)
Date: Sat Aug 18 2001 - 08:08:47 MET DST

  • Next message: Herman Rubin: "Re: Thomas' Fuzziness and Probability"

    Joe Pfeiffer <pfeiffer@cs.nmsu.edu> wrote in message news:<1bu1z73nk6.fsf@cs.nmsu.edu>...
    > sfrthomas@yahoo.com (S. F. Thomas) writes:
    > > Here again, I for one disagree. I maintain that natural language
    > > fuzziness is not sufficient to cause LEM and LC to fail. For example,
    > > the term "tall" everyone would agree is fuzzy in the sense earlier
    > > described. But no witness would testify that her attacker was "tall
    > > and not tall"
    > > without inviting the derision of the court, and the fuzziness of the
    > > term will not come to her rescue. I conclude that LC holds in natural
    > > language even for fuzzy terms. Clearly, Earl has a different take on
    > > the matter, but I have been pointing out this simple thought
    > > experiment for a long time now, and I have encountered not a word in
    > > response from anyone suggesting I am wrong. Fuzziness does not failure
    > > of LEM or LC entail.
    >
    > The problem with this example is that in ordinary speech, short does
    > not mean ``not tall.''

    The term "short" does not occur in my counter-example. And is not
    relevant vis-a-vis "tall" if one is thought-testing LC.

    > Likewise, while the witness might be asked
    > ``was he tall?'' she would never be asked ``was he (not tall)?''

    The thought experiment would require only that the witness be asked,
    simply, with no "leading of the witness", "how tall was the
    attacker?". I continue to maintain that if her answer was "tall and
    not tall", it would be derided as an absurdity, and either her mental
    competence or credibility could be brought into question. The
    fuzziness of the term tall, I also maintain, would not come to her
    rescue.

    > (not tall) corresponds more closely to (short or average) than it does
    > to short. So while a witness who said the assailant was ``kind of
    > tall and kind of short'' would indeed be laughed at, a witness who
    > described him as ``kind of tall and kind of average'' would have said
    > something we all recognize as reasonable.

    There is nothing objectionable about saying the attacker was "mediun
    to tall", if that is what you are getting at. That would be a
    perfectly sensible statement, and would be no cause for derision. But
    neither does it call LC into question.

    Nice try.

    Regards,
    S. F. Thomas

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