Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Robert D. Montoya

Last modified: 2018-02-01


The concept of parsimony has deep roots within a number of disciplinary discourses, including within philosophy, the history of science, biological classification, and Information Studies.This paper is a theoretical examination of parsimony as an integral aspect of classification production. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, I look to biological classifications and S.R. Ranganathan's Colon Classificatiokn to detail how parsimony functions in building and maintaining classifications systems for both description and information retrieval. Such an examination is necessary to specifically address how our systems are simplified and economized to maximize their systematic efficiency, and to define how such efficiency is one way in which we limit potential uses of our classification systems. Knowledge is contingent and dependent on individual and cultural perspective, so better understanding how our systems economize knowledge can help us embrace more contingent models of knowledge production and, ultimately, more pluralistic approaches to knowledge organization.