Hierarchy and the foundations of classification: the inspection of its ontological status and its role in ethics

Joseph T. Tennis, University of Washington (USA)

Abstract | R. Dawkins (1976) defines hierarchy as: “a set which satisfies: (i) There is no element in the set which is superior to itself, and (ii) There is one element in the set, to be called the hierarch, which is superior to all the other elements in the set.  This broad definition is a good starting point for considering how we conceptualize and critique hierarchy in the classification schemes examined in knowledge organization.  Hope Olson has critiqued this from a feminist stance (Olson, 2001; 2007). And there have been some responses (e.g. J. Tennis 2012). This paper explores this foundational concept by outlining Dawkin’s ideas around hierarchy, the critiques of this structural core to our work, including, but not limited Olson, and then outlines a novel view of hierarchy as a flexible construct that plays many roles.

Bio | Joseph T. Tennis is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at the University of Washington Information School and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Linguistics. He served as President of the International Society for Knowledge Organization from 2014-2018. He is on the Library Quarterly and Knowledge Organization editorial boards and served as a core member of the InterPARES Trust research team from 2005- 2019. He gave the 19th S. R. Ranganathan Lecturers in October 2017. Tennis holds his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Lawrence University, and Master of Library Science, and Specialist Degree in Book History both from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Information Science from the University of Washington.

Event Timeslots (1)

Day 1 | Thursday, June 20
Joseph Tennis, University of Washington (USA)