By Gordon Rugg
A “Useful concept for the day” article
This is a replica handaxe that I made in my archaeology days. It’s turned out to be invaluable as a demonstration of assorted useful concepts, though I didn’t expect that when I made it.
What would your response be if someone asked you whether that handaxe is Windows-compatible? You’d probably be surprised by the question, because it’s meaningless. As for explaining why it’s meaningless, though, that’s not so immediately obvious.
This is where range of convenience comes in. It’s from George Kelley’s approach to psychology, namely Personal Construct Theory (PCT). It dates from the 1950s, but still has a strong following today because it offers a clean, systematic, rigorous way of modeling how people think. PCT has a rich, well-developed set of concepts for handling language and categorisation and ideas. Range of convenience is one of those concepts.