- Slides: 11
Meaning Analysis Ashley Lawrence
Meaning Analysis §Being able to think clearly is the central component of critical thinking §In order to answer a question, we need to know what the question means §In order to communicate precisely and avoid misunderstanding, we need to watch out for vagueness or uncertainty
Understanding Literal Meaning § Literal meaning is a property of linguistic expressions § The literal meaning of a complex sequence of words is determined by its grammatical properties and the meanings that are assigned to those words § The literal meaning of something is distinguished from conversational implicature which is the information that is expressed in a particular conversational context, distinct from the literal meaning of the statement.
Using & Evaluating Definitions § Lack of clarity in meaning can obstruct good reasoning and effective communication. One way to make meaning clearer is to use definitions. A definition is made up of two parts - a definiendum and a definien § Definiendum: the term that is to be defined § Definien: the group of words or concepts used in the definition that is supposed to have the same meaning as the definiendum § Ex: Defining "bachelor" to mean "an unmarried man", the word "bachelor" is the definiendum, and "an unmarried man" is the definien.
4 Types of Definitions § Reportive Definition reports the existing meaning of a term § Ex: "prime number" refers to any integer divisible only by 1 and itself § Stipulative Definition is not used to explain the existing meaning of a term. It is used to assign a new meaning to a term, whether or not the term has already got a meaning § Precising Definition might be regarded as a combination of reportive and stipulative definition § Ex: Defining an “old person" as any person of age 65 or above. § Persuasive definition is any definition that attaches an emotive, positive or derogatory meaning to a term where it has none § Ex: Someone against abortion might offer the definition of "abortion" as the murder of an innocent person during pregnancy
Verbal Disputes • A verbal dispute is where the apparent disagreement is not due to disagreement having to do with the facts, but with understanding of the meaning of a key term or concept. • Verbal disputes are often compared with factual disputes, where disagreements have to do with different opinions about facts and not meaning
Linguistic Pitfalls Language can be used to mislead and confuse, or make ideas seem more extreme than they really are One main task of critical thinking is to identify these linguistic pitfalls § Obscurity § Distortion § Empty content
Obscurity § Refers to unclear meaning- 3 reasons why something might be unclear 1. A concept can be ambiguous- having more than one meaning 2. A term is said to be vague if there are cases where it is unknown as to whether it applies or not 3. The meaning could be incomplete
Distortion § Distortion is a matter of using words in a way that differs from its standard meaning in an inappropriate manner § Ex: Describing something as a "valuable learning opportunity" when "mistake" is more appropriate § The use of weasel words is also an example of distortion. These are cases where the ordinary meaning of a word is changed in the middle of a discussion, usually in response to some counterexample or an objection
Empty Content § An empty statement is any statement that is supposed to provide information, but in reality it provides no information at all in the relevant context. § Tautologies or tautological statements are all empty. A tautology is a statement that is true in virtue of the meaning of the logical connectives present in the statement: not", "and", "or“ § A tautology is a special case of what we might call analytic statements. These are statements that are true in virtue of their meaning. § Ex: Anything that is large is not small
Bibliography http: //philosophy. hku. hk/think/meaning/def. php