Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Fuzz In A Fuss Over Fuzzy Logic

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How ironic that the British Police a.k.a.The Fuzz are in hot water because they have apparently mis-categorised the crime of grievous bodily harm with intent. The full story can be found here BBC

As we know, scientific management a.k.a managerialism loves to measure things because "what you measure is what you get" This might be re-phrased as "how you categorise influences how you understand it"

The Fuzz seem to have been applying some Fuzzy Logic to the problem of serious crime, and in a classic example have shown how so called ontological entities can belong to more than one category based on the sense-making judgements of the observer.

The Home Office, of course argues that 'grievous bodily harm with intent' belongs to a particular and unambiguous category of crime. It just goes to show that their guidelines must have been ambiguous if alternative judgements are possible.

Because grievous bodily harm is a 'social contruction' this story shows exactly why positivistic scientific management is overly ambitious in its attempts to apply the rules of natural science to the social world.

Mark Easton of the BBC remarks that correcting the labelling means that it can now be revealed that serious crime against the person has risen, which got me wondering if there might be a way to make finer and finer distinctions of crime. How might someone feel who was very badly beaten up with intent not proved? Is this NOT a serious crime too?

Perhaps we should just measure 'crime' regardless of the varieties and use that as a bell weather of the state of society.

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