Re: SUO: Re: SUOP Topic :> Definition Of Definition
Although I agree with you that there are no universally accepted
definitions of terms like "issue", "example", and "proposition",
I also agree with Tom that there are many more important things
to do than to spend time defining those terms.
JA> If you can locate but a single consensual
> definition hereabouts, of even the firest
> geronymous brand, then do e-patch it with
> all due dispatch to a fine and proper url,
> and the entire working group will pick up
> the gauntlet, and initiate itself on that.
I believe it would be a total waste of time to search for
citations or to study whatever citations might be found.
In an earlier note to this thread, I recommended the paper
by Norman Swartz:
Definitions, Dictionaries, and Meanings
Please note the following paragraph from that paper:
Far too much stock has been placed in the supposed efficacy
and utility of defining our terms. Students often approach
philosophy with beliefs about definition which border on
the magical. Students mistakenly believe that defining
one's terms will usually have a powerful, beneficial payoff;
but the actual dividend earned in defining one's terms is
typically fairly meager.
For example, I define the word "proposition" as an equivalence
class of sentences under a given class of meaning-preserving
translations. See the following web page:
This is a very precise, but very theory-dependent definition,
which I have found useful for many theoretical purposes.
I would also consider it a definition that is well within
the range of more informal uses of the English word.
However, I would never claim that it was consensual, widely
accepted, or even understandable by anyone who did not have
a good background in logic.
I believe that my definition is appropriate for a formally
defined ontology, and I would recommend it for that purpose.
But I also believe that it would be completely inappropriate
for a procedures document on how to define an ontology.
To use Peirce's pragmatic criterion, that definition (or any
other precise definition of "proposition") would not make
the slightest difference in any procedures that the SUO group
would carry out, except perhaps to waste a lot of time.
Bottom line: There are better things to do with our time,
and let's get on with them.