Re: reply to Danny Yee

Danny Yee (danny@ORTHANC.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Mon, 28 Feb 1994 12:04:33 +1100

Dwight Read writes:
> Yee seems to be arguing himself into a corner by the implicit assumption
> that there is a single system and the issue has to do with what is in or
> not in that system.

I don't know what this single system is supposed to be; I certainly am
not interested in Daniel Foss' "Nature of Things in General"! Choice of
a system to study is pretty much arbitrary as well as relative to the
observer; it depends on what they are interested in and on what
resources are available, among other things. As I thought I had made
clear, I was NOT suggesting Mike Lieber chose the wrong system for his
analysis. I thought my review made it clear that I thought it was a very
interesting one! I made a one line comment to the effect that that
extension to a bigger system might be productive, and I have already
accepted that it probably wasn't appropriate for the review.

[ Note: I do think that there are certain epistemological criteria (other
than the pragmatic ones mentioned) that should guide choices of objects
of study. These sort of philosophical issues are important, but
hardly "the issue". (I'm curious as to what the latter is, anyway.) ]

> Yee seems to want an accounting of the system composed of
> fish/environment/fishermen viewed at a the level of behavior, action,
> reaction, etc. That is certainly a legitimate framework. But I udnerstand
> that Lieber was doing something very different, and to criticise Lieber for
> not doing research that matches one's own perception of what are the research
> issues is not very helpful without first establishing that the framework used
> by Lieber is in fact faulty in terms of its stated goals. Yee, as I read his
> review and subsequent posts, has not done this.

There's a basic confusion here. I am not criticising Mike Lieber's
research or framework at all... I was suggesting *additional* work that
might supplement or "round out" his study. Just as one can "expand" a
system focused on the fishing knowledge of Kapinga by including their
involvement in broader political structures (as is done very effectively
in More Than a Living), one could expand it to include ecological or
climatic processes (or anything else for that matter). Whether this will
produce interesting results or not depends on specifics, of course, but
the marine ecology seems (to me) to be a promising possibility. Until a
marine biologist comes along it will remain no more.

Anyway, Mike seems to understand what I'm trying to say. If we are going
to talk about _More Than a Living_, something I'd be more interested in
starting with is the suggestion as to the ways in which the extreme
isolation of Kapingamarangi has been significant; does anyone else have
comparative information on other extremely isolated communities?

Danny Yee I (

P.S. Are there really more Danny Yees out there, or did Foss' last
piece of mail confuse everyone else too?