Futile Definitions

Shand, John (2008). Futile Definitions. Think, 6(17-18) pp. 129–137.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1477175600003079


Settling definitions is often seen as a central tool for clarifying concepts, and answering ‘What is X?’ questions. Examples might be ‘What is knowledge?’, ‘What is a work of art?’ or ‘What is a dog?’. A common way of answering such questions is by formulating necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing to be of a certain sort. It is this form of real definition that is of concern here.

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