How to talk about everyone

A note on How many senses. A correspondent reminds me that I said what I said too broadly. ‘But experiments are supposed to be repeatable by any appropriately trained person not actually disabled.’ True – that is too broad. Mind you, I clarified somewhat in the next sentence – ‘You could claim that the people who can’t do it are disabled – lack a sense’ – but I should have clarified in the first sentence. I didn’t mean disabled in general, I meant lacking a specific sense needed to repeat a specific experiment.

I added the qualification merely in the effort to be precise – as one does when arguing, you know. I was making a fairly sweeping generalization there, so I felt that need to be careful, to anticipate likely objections or exceptions and include them. The point of the disagreement turns on the difference between Stannard’s claim about experimental repeatability which applies only to a particular group, compared to experimental repeatability which applies in principle to everyone – with the necessary stipulations: appropriate training, and the appropriate senses (appropriate, in both cases, in the sense of ‘what’s needed for the particular experiment’). That’s all I meant.

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