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thanks, brynjulf,

for your comments on theory.  i like you roping the win-win situation into 
the discussion.  although mutual understanding is a myth, this does not 
mean that each could have that feeling and for each it is win-situation if 
it prevails.

i also agree that ethics is not universal, that one cannot presume that 
people share the same ethical theory and enact its attendant 
standards.  the consequence of this acknowledgement is to allow ethical 
beliefs to work themselves out in conversation, in negotiation - provided 
that it does not end up terminating that conversation by one anihilating 
the other (the extreme imperative), one torturing or oppressing the other, 
or one disrespecting the autonomy of the other (the most easily acceptable 
imperative).

i am glad you relate your astronomical example to people's conceptions and 
actions.  my problem with using physical or astronomical examples is that 
they often invoke the distinction between theory (about the one universe it 
is to represent) => having a life of its own (independent of the social 
nature of theory) and human (social) use of theory => subjective validity, 
bias and falsity.  i know you didn't make this distinction but i would 
prefer that we use examples of theory of interest to design)ing, which 
always is concerned with some particular group of people's future lives, 
not with the most general description of one universe without the people 
who live it and conceive it in their own ways.

klaus

At 11:05 AM 11/20/00 +0100, [log in to unmask] wrote:
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klaus krippendorff
gregory bateson professor for cybernetics, language, and culture
the annenberg school for communication
university of pennsylvania
3620 walnut street; philadelphia, pa 19104-6220
telephone: 215.898.7051 (office);  215.545.9356 (home)
fax: 215.898.2024 (office);  215.545.9357 (home)
e-mail:  [log in to unmask]
www.asc.upenn.edu/usr/krippendorff/index.html