Definitions and the Growth of Knowledge: The Main Ideas

Robert Kublikowski

Abstrakt


Are definitions useful in an empirical knowledge-gaining process? What roles do definitions play in the process of the growth of empirical knowledge? Two attitudes towards definitions can be distinguished in the history of the theory of definitions. According to the first and positive one, definitions have been useful in science. The second attitude has been a critical one.

I try to defend the view about the usefulness of definitions, on the one hand, by application of Hilary Putnam’s theory of reference of natural kind terms. On the other hand, Karl Popper’s fallibilism is implemented to the theory of definitions, especially to the theory of real definitions.

The structure of this text is as follows: (I) the origin and the development of the theory of definitions, (II) Popperian antidefinitionism, (III) the theory of definitions and the Putnamian theory of meaning and (IV) the theory of stipulative, lexical and persuasive definitions.


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