uncountably many things to name

On Jan 25, 2008, at 10:11 AM, Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol) wrote:

> <Aside>
> ...though sometime ago there was an 'entertaining' exchange on  
> quite whether there were enough URI's available to assign [1]  
> (which I suspect repeats from time to time).
> "...In particular, how can RDF say something a particular arbitrary  
> real number?  There just aren't enough URIs to provide names for  
> them all." [1]
> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-interest/2002Jan/ 
> 0028 (and ensuing thread).
> </Aside>

In the spirit of entertainment:

There aren't enough URIs to simultaneously name all members of an  
uncountable set - true. But I can use URIs to name arbitrary  
countable subsets of that uncountable set. The set of everything  
(which of course is nonsense, cf. Russell) may be uncountable, but  
that doesn't mean that we can't name arbitrary particular members of it.

Or, to prove that I can name anything: Give me an example of  
something that can't be named. Let http://mumble.net/unnameable-thing  
be that thing. Then it can be named!

This kind of talk is sophistry, of course, which is why I prefer to  
ground discussions in how URIs are to be used in our Wittgensteinian  
language-games, not in what they denote. I can say how I want a URI  
to be used, and it's then a political question whether anyone else  
follows the rules I set out.

Received on Friday, 1 February 2008 22:36:22 UTC