virus: Fuzzy Logic qua Magic Wand

KMO prime (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 01:02:05 EDT

On Thu, 24 Oct 1996 17:40:31 -0500 David Leeper <> writes:
>> If you trace the genetic lineage of birds back far enough you will
>> eventually reach an organism that is definitely not a bird.
>> Somewhere between the animal that is definetly a bird and the one
>> that is definitely not a bird there will be a critter which isn't
>> quite a bird but which is obviously something bird-like.
>> At one end of the continueum are things which are obviously not
>> and at the other end are obvious cases of inteligence, but in the
>> there are systems which are hard to call. Where we draw the line
>> depend on our interests (and prejdices).
>The subjective influence of such "line drawing" can be reduced with
>Fuzzy Logic. We can say
>with 0.5 percent certainty that such-and-such a critter is a bird.

You can SAY it, but that doesn't make the category "bird" any less
arbitrary. It doesn't make "bird" a natural kind, i.e. a category that
exists independent of the interests of the taxonomist. You can say with
100% certainty that such and such a critter is a bird. Reduction with
Fuzzy Logic doesn't make the category "bird" any more substantial than
the category "weirdo."
You can't wave a magic wand and clear away some subjective haze which
distorts our ability to determine which interest-independent category
into which a thing should fit. There are no such categories to be

Take care. -KMO