Re: Just semantics (was: Re: Aging isn't a disease)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat Oct 13 2001 - 00:52:07 MDT

On Friday, October 12, 2001 7:19 PM Damien Broderick wrote:
quoting Robert Coyote:
>>but its all semantics
> This is one of those cant phrases that genuinely infuriate me, and should
> upset anyone with an educated brain in their head.

Calm down! I used to get excited when people said "On the one hand..." --
which should be "On one hand...":)

> *Semantics* is the discipline centrally concerned with *the meaning of
> statements*, with *how communication works effectively to convey or mask
> meanings*.
> So `Pah, it's just semantics,' with its implied rider `Please ditch *that*
> pettifogging triviality', is equivalent to saying, `That's just trying to
> agree on what we're talking about, and the ways we'll do it--let's ignore
> such dismal irrelevancies and instead just babble about whatever comes
> our heads.'

I think the way it is used generally is different than the technical
discipline. You're right, of course, but most people use it the wrong way
and are able to get what they mean. They mean it's quibbling over
definitions or terms with no substantial matters in dispute -- or hiding the
more substantial stuff.

With the FDA the problem is that labeling something a disease or not a
disease for them has policy implications -- not labeling something a disease
is akin to saying it's a nonproblem -- while for most people, I think, it
would seem to be something different. I bet this standard is only applied
to life extension claims. After all, broken bones are not diseases (in most
cases), yet we do treat them. We don't just say, "Ah, you've broken your
leg! That's part of the living process. Just hobble around from here
on.":) I bet the FDA would approve a drug that helped bones to heal faster
over one that slowed down an aging process.

Perhaps we should ask the FDA...

Quibbling into the sunset,

Daniel Ust
    Check out the LEF at:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:13 MDT