9 - B. Problems with content The most common problem that...

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B. Problems with content The most common problem that Socrates finds with the content of a definition (although not, as we will see, the only kind of problem) it that the proposed definition fails to pick out the right things. A definition may be formally correct but still go wrong if it does not capture the right class of instances. The description may be 1. Too broad I.e., it gives a necessary but not a sufficient condition. E.g., defining “brother” as “sibling.” Example at Meno 73d: defining virtue as the ability to rule . (Includes tyrants who rule unjustly.) 2. Too narrow I.e., it gives a sufficient but not a necessary condition. E.g., defining “brother” as “unmarried male sibling.” Example at Meno 71e: defining virtue as managing a home well . (Leaves out virtuous children.) Note that a definition may be both too broad and too narrow, i.e., it may admit instances that it should exclude, and exclude instances that it should admit. E.g., defining “brother” as “unmarried sibling.” This condition is neither sufficient for being a brother (it includes some sisters, who should be excluded) nor necessary for being a brother (it excludes married brothers). Example at
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PHYSICS 110 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '09 term at UC Davis.

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9 - B. Problems with content The most common problem that...

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