[tdwg-content] New terms need resolution: "Individual"

Bob Morris morris.bob at gmail.com
Tue Jul 19 17:34:22 CEST 2011

What is your position about:

- "All the whales that were within 10 km of Maui between 2010-06-01
and 2010-08-31."
- "All the whales that will have been  within 10 km of Maui between
2012-06-01 and 2012-08-30."
- "All the whales that that will have been within 10 km of Maui in the
next 91 days"

Also for each of the above, what about
- "A whale that..."

Also per Hillmar,  for each of the 6 cases,  consider the 6 cases that
negate the verbs, e.g.
"All the whales that were not within..."

When you are done with that exercise, what about the difference
between "A whale" and "The whale"?

{FWIW, for finite sets, the difference between intensional and
extensional definition is largely one of practicality based on the set
size. That's not the case for infinite sets, for which extensional
definitions are impossible. This is one reason I wouldn't be enamored
of your criterion. I don't think it in fact includes some actual
whales but excludes others.}


On Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 2:26 AM, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
>> But Hilmar recommended a companion list of things not in the class. What
> are
>> some of those?
> Right -- sorry!
> Well, plenty of things are not in the class (Localities, dates, etc., etc.).
> But more specifically, I would say that any circumscription of organisms
> that is based on an intensional definition (sensu Régine) would be excluded
> (and would instead be covered by the "Taxon" class). That is, if a set of
> organisms is defined by properties, rather than by specific members, it
> would be excluded from this class.  Also excluded from this class would be
> an organism or set of organisms bounded by time or space.  What I mean by
> this is that the temporal scope of an organism instance begins when the
> organism(s) is/are born, and ends when the organism(s) disintegrates (I
> didn't want to say "die", because a dead specimen is still an organism, in
> my option -- but a disintegrated specimen is not).  Also, one cannot define
> an instance of organism dynamically via space and time, such as "all whales
> off Maui during the winter months", as the members would change year after
> year.
> This reasoning would tend to exclude "population" from this class; but if
> population also is excluded from Taxon, then I don't know how one would
> represent an instance of a population via DwC.  Surely there is an
> informatics need to track/monitor/analyze sets of organisms defined by
> "population".  But how would one represent such a unit in DwC?  If not as a
> Taxon, and not as an Organism, then how would one instantiate a "population"
> and assign properties to it?  Another new class, perhaps?  That would make
> me squeamish.
> Incidentally, I have been using the term "Organism" consistently to refer to
> this class; but as I said previously, I am reasonably open-minded to what
> the term should be (as long as it doesn't include the word "taxon", and only
> if there is broad community consensus if it includes the words "Instance" or
> "Individual").
> Aloha,
> Rich
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Robert A. Morris

Emeritus Professor  of Computer Science
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125-3390
IT Staff
Filtered Push Project
Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

email: morris.bob at gmail.com
web: http://efg.cs.umb.edu/
web: http://etaxonomy.org/mw/FilteredPush
phone (+1) 857 222 7992 (mobile)

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