The Importance of a Good Definition

 Posted by on 16 November 2006 at 6:13 pm  Uncategorized
Nov 162006
 

Today’s story of epistemology in action concerns a lawsuit over the proper definition of a “sandwich”. In this case, a judge ruled that a burrito was not a sandwich:

Is a burrito a sandwich? The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster’s Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba’s burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla.

“A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans,” Locke wrote in a decision released last week.

In court papers, Panera, a St. Louis-based chain of more than 900 cafes, argued for a broad definition of a sandwich, saying that a flour tortilla is bread and that a food product with bread and a filling is a sandwich.

   
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