Pringles, PS2s, and philosophy: Big business tries to avoid taxes

Philosophy, traditionally the least pragmatic of all university degrees, is coming into increasing use in the corporate world. International trade is forcing officials to determine the fundamental identity of potato chips, video-game players, and even vegetables -- and wrestle with those definitions in the courts. Such decisions have always required the wisdom of Solomon; today, they're ever-more reliant upon the analysis of Aristotle.

In one recent judicial decision, Britain's Supreme Court of Judicature has definitively determined the taxonomy of Pringles potato chips (or "crisps"). For those of us who grew up eating them out of a can unambiguously labeled "potato chips," the question was moot. But their bizarre list of ingredients, combined with an idiosyncrasy in the U.K. tax code, transformed what was once a culinary certainty into an issue for serious debate.