Inclusion & Exclusion

The excluded is always included by an observer. In other words, the observer includes the excluded as the excluded. This is a two-sided form, which means the boundary separating the two sides must be crossable. An observer can only exclude something that could potentially be included. There are no laws prohibiting a person from flapping their arms and flying into the sky like Icarus because such a law could not be broken—i.e., the line separating legal and illegal could not be crossed.

In terms of reversibility, in a parliamentary system, the government and the opposition must be reversible; it must be possible for them to trade places. The line must be crossable.

Foreign-born (or naturalized) US citizens are currently excluded from the presidency; however, the law could be changed with a constitutional amendment. So, the foreign-born US citizen could potentially become president. In contrast, a cat could never become president, which means there is no need to exclude it. Only things that could potentially be included can be considered excluded.

This brings in the temporal dimension because at some future time, foreign-born US citizens could become eligible for the presidency.

In the above example, it would be more accurate to say that the cat’s vocalization or utterances are not recognized by society, although they do irritate society—invite some response.

To continue … Until recent years, there were no laws or “Bathroom Bills” prohibiting a transgendered person from using the restroom or locker room that they feel is appropriate. Nor were there counter-laws allowing transgendered persons to choose a particular restroom. In other words, transgendered persons were not observed or included in legal communication. They simply didn’t exist for the legal system. The issue was not part of the modern discourse on human rights.

In the same way, child neglect/abuse, domestic violence, animal cruelty, etc., were not always included in legal communication. These issues didn’t exist for the legal system. Nor were they observed as social problems.


  1. I like the general example, but let’s speak about robots (and AI) again in … well, a few … years 😉

    The question here is if the robot or the AI can be seen as ‘attributable address’ (i.e. as one side in a SOCIAL system, instead of just a technical system), which is not necessarily a feature of the robot/AI itself — it may suffice to observe the robot/AI as “intelligent enough”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great point. It always comes back to the observer. I’ve been thinking a lot about post-humanism and assemblages, and your comment helps. Thanks.

    I revised the post to replace robot with cat. I don’t see a cat becoming president, even though a cat would preferable to the current president.


  3. Is there distinction here between excluded and environment? A cat is not part of the political system and therefore is part of its environment. If the (self-referential) environment to the system is everything that the system is not, or everything excluded from the system’s own communicative medium, then is this different from everything excluded from the system in the way you are using the term?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point. I seem to be having trouble coming with a good example. First I said robot but changed it to cat after Mario’s comment. I need to make this about communication. The cat’s meows are excluded from political communication. The actual, material cat is not much different than the physical human being in that they are both excluded from political communication–that is, if we assume that only communication can be included.

      Also, inclusion/exclusion has been called a meta-distinction, while system/environment is type or species of the inclusion/ exclusion distinction.
      The original point that prompted the post was that the excluded is always included by an observer.


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