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Faulty Definitions

Faulty Definitions - Faulty Definitions There are two ways...

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Faulty Definitions There are two ways definitions can go wrong: problems with form , and problems with content . A. Problems with form: why enumerations can’t be definitions Socrates insists that merely citing an instance, or a list of instances (rather than giving a general formula, or description) is inadequate. 1. Examples Euthyphro 6d: piety is doing what I am doing now. Meno 74c-d: defining shape as roundness , or color as white or as white + a list of other colors. 2. Practical Objections Trying to list all the instances of the definiendum is likely to be practically unworkable. E.g., you can’t expect to define ‘brother’ by listing all the brothers in the world. And even if you were presented with a such a list, how could you tell what one thing they are all instances of? You might not even have time to go through the entire list. 3. Theoretical objections a. A complete list of instances is not always possible. E.g., try to define “even number” by enumeration. You can’t give a complete list. What about a
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