Once more, I’ve blown through Toronto and blown off all my friends in the process. All my time was blocked out for family, imminent family or both, which makes me happy (Family!) and sad (Friends?), but right now I’m back in Ottawa, and life rolls on. Sorry, Torontonians. I’ll be back soon.

One philosophical point I’d like to make before we move on to other things here is the stark contrast between a moral and a scientific question, one that comes up about as often as you’d expect in a complicated world like ours. When you phrase a question using the word “can”, for example, as in “I can do”, you are typically making stark assertion of fact. This is a claim of veracity, whose outcome will be either true, you can do X, or false, you cannot.

Comparably, you will often discover that the word “should” comes up in identical contexts but meaning a very different thing. In this case, “I should do” means you have made a judgement of some kind, and determined that to perform some action will have positive repercussions with respect to some later goal.

This is typically not a claim of outright veracity, but nevertheless, the result can be just as stark. And, frequently, the outcomes from those two claims can be seen to be diametrically opposed to one another. For example, consider the phrase “All the sushi you can eat.” I submit to you that in at least one case, that is to say The Case Of The Missing Sushi, a mysterious affair in which I am as it turns out the prime suspect, the difference between “all the sushi you can eat” and “all the sushi you should eat” is approximately a pound and a half of sushi.

I think the groaning and waddling is what gave me away.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 11, 2005 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I seem to recall another incident – one not, sadly, immortalized in your archives – involving Too Much Sashimi™, an Impish Poke™ and a Schadenfreudal (Schadenfreudian?) Giggle™ – mayhap a recurring pattern?

    Speaking of recurring patterns that hurt, lo: BLIT, a short story by David Langford. I’d source it if I could remember how the heck it ended up in my short-term memory. Perhaps that indicates something to which I should pay some attention.

    Anyhow, glad you had a good weekend. Welcome back. Happy Formerly Flappy Delicious-Beast Day and all that.