Specific Criticism: Selling Nonapples

From this Overcoming Bias comment thread:

Isn’t it a bit silly to complain that ‘nonwood’ is so vague as to be useless, when ‘wood’ is such a broad category that it alone conveys little useful information?

I don’t think it’s a major leap to guess that making the wagons out of balsa will be a bad idea, but it’s a wood.  So is pine – which contains highly flammable resins.  If spontaneous combustion is an issue, knowing what kind of wood is used is important.

Likewise, selling nonapples is equivalent to saying we shouldn’t sell apples but should continue to sell something.  It conveys more than saying we should stop selling apples, which is compatible with ceasing to merchandise.

If vagueness is a valid complaint, how are we to interpret ‘Coherent Extrapolated Volition’?

2 Responses to “Specific Criticism: Selling Nonapples”

  1. Relatively speaking I’d say wood is far more specific than non-wood. Do you have some sort of absolute criterion for determining vagueness?

  2. Whether it’s vague is relative to our needs.

    Wood is, practically speaking, as effectively vague as non-wood.

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