on the philosophical aspects of a specification

Aristotle Pagaltzis pagaltzis at gmx.de
Thu Mar 6 01:45:29 EST 2008

* Bowerbird at aol.com <Bowerbird at aol.com> [2008-03-03 23:45]:

> > Is it possible for everyone to agree in all cases about how

> > the user’s intent should be teased out? Clearly it is

> > conceivable that enough effort could be made to write all

> > agreements down.

> >

> > And if you write down what intent should be teased out of

> > particular inputs, what have you created but a spec? And if

> > the effort has been made to agree on all possible cases,

> > would this spec not be unambiguous? And is it not yet

> > obviously the case that such a spec would not need to be

> > inflexible about the syntax it admits?

> >

> > Why then does the fallacious argument that a spec would

> > represent a loss for the user continue?


> aren't you loading the dice by labeling it as "fallacious"?

No. The reasoning I outlined in questions [I’ve taken the liberty
to re-insert the quotation you elided] shows that the premises do
not support the argument. That means, like it or not, that the
argument is fallacious.

Sorry. I can’t change that.

> i'm not necessarily arguing that _any_ spec would do that.

> but some might... most especially by some implementers...

Then those specs would not describe Markdown. As I understand,
the current discussion is about writing a specification for
Markdown, not for some other markup language.

If those “some” implementors want to write a specification for
something other than Markdown, they are welcome to do so, but
they and their spec are irrelevant to the ongoing discussion.

> and according to markdown, users can't be wrong, can they?

Users can very well be wrong according to Markdown. As John has
said, if a human would have trouble figuring out what structure
some piece of text is supposed to signify, the computer can be
forgiven for likewise failing to infer a useful meaning.

Aristotle Pagaltzis // <http://plasmasturm.org/>

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