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   RE: Begging the Question

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  • From: Andrew Layman <andrewl@microsoft.com>
  • To: "'xml-dev@lists.xml.org'" <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000 17:10:44 -0800

Simon St. Laurent wrote, "I would humbly suggest that it might be reasonable
at this point to put
'namespaces mean X because the namespaces spec says so' into the same
category as [example of begging the question].  That would suggest that
because the namespaces spec has been the subject of
so much (unfulfilling) argument, it may be considered to have virtually no
traction whatsoever on any but the most limited points - an attribute-based
syntax for associating identifiers with prefixes which uses element
structures to define its scope."

I'm going to read this very literally. This statement would mean that "the
namespaces spec says X" is false for all X, in other words, the spec does
not say anything at all.

That conflates the (true) recognition that the namespaces specification has
suffered much misunderstanding with the (false) idea that it has no meaning
whatsoever.  Much of the fruitless debate has been caused by reading into
the specification things that it does not say.  If you strip away these
projections, what remains is less than has been fantasized but still much
more than nothing.

It is an error to claim that the spec says more than it does.  It is equally
an error to claim, because it does not say what some would imagine or prefer
that it say, that it says nothing.  It says a limited amount.

It is also an error to assert that the specification has no definite meaning
if many people have misrepresented or misunderstood it.  That confuses
popularity with identity.

If the specification is not well understood, I recommend that we have little
to gain by arguing that it thereby does not say anything.  We will gain more
by investing our obviously abundant writing capacity into getting what it
does say well understood and then moving on.   


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