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Conditions for a Correct Definition

# Conditions for a Correct Definition - definiens turns out...

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Conditions for a Correct Definition Some jargon. We’ll call the term to be defined the definiendum , and the term that is offered to define it the definiens . We can then reserve the term definition for the whole formula defining the definiendum in terms of the definiens . Thus, in the definition ‘A brother is a male sibling’ (or, ‘brother = df male sibling’), ‘brother’ is the definiendum and ‘male sibling’ is the definiens . A. The “application” requirement This requirement is simply that the definiens neither be too broad nor too narrow. The definiens must provide (materially) necessary and sufficient conditions. I.e., the proposed definiens should apply to the right things, viz. exactly the things that the definiendum applies to. To use some logical jargon: the definiens should be extensionally equivalent to the definiendum : X = df ABC only if every instance of X has characteristics ABC , and everything that has characteristics ABC is an instance of X . Most definitions found faulty in the dialogues fail the application requirement - the proposed
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Unformatted text preview: definiens turns out not to be extensionally equivalent to the definiendum . But extensional equivalence by itself is not enough. B. The “explanatory” requirement At Euthyphro 11a-b Socrates agrees that piety is loved by all the gods, and that what all the gods love is pious, but still objects to defining piety as what all the gods love . His objection is that it is not because it is loved by the gods that a pious thing is pious. This suggests an additional requirement, that the definiens should in some way explain the definiendum : X = df ABC only if every instance of X is so because it has characteristics ABC . These two necessary conditions are probably jointly sufficient: X = df ABC iff (1) every instance of X has characteristics ABC , and everything that has characteristics ABC is an instance of X , and (2) every instance of X is an instance of X because it has characteristics ABC ....
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