By Any Other Name

One of the most important features of language is that there is always more than one way to talk about something.  Two very different descriptions can refer to precisely the same thing.

The way we determine whether two statements have the same subject is not to examine any property they have themselves, but by checking their implications.  If every implication of one is also implied by the other, and vice versa, we say they express the same thing.  If not, they are different.

Names, labels, descriptions – they are all the same in that what is important about them is what they refer to, not what they are.  This is key:  if we cannot say what implications a word or a phrase has, it has no meaning, and we cannot use it in a meaningful way.

As elementary as these points are, they are not widely appreciated, and rarely acknowledged.

One Response to “By Any Other Name”

  1. michael vassar Says:

    This sounds like the beginning of a very interesting blog post. It would be good if it continued with examples of these points not being appreciated and how this causes confusion.

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