The Logic of Definition
DEFENCE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TORONTO (CANADA)
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Voltaires admonition to define your terms has become a bedrock maxim of science, whether in the physical, social or military sciences. Why do we as Defence Scientists attach such importance to the process of definition First and foremost, definitions ideally provide semantic clarity, clarifying ambiguous and vague terms and, hence, mitigating terminological confusion, a critical imperative particularly in combined or multinational and multilingual military operations. Moreover, standardized terminology can enhance situational awareness, to the extent that it assists in identifying and describing features of the strategic, operational andor tactical environment in commonly understood language. Finally, univocal terms and concepts that is, terms and concepts that have only one meaning or sense are the building blocks of the defence scientific enterprise. Precise definition is necessary if these terms are to be applied to extant phenomena without question or doubt. Moreover, as Robinson points out, science requires universal agreement...on the inferences that can be drawn from those terms when they are combined into propositions. Safe and agreed inferences are possible only with precise and unambiguous terms Robinson 1950 70. What follows in this Technical Note is a discussion of the logic of definition, illustrating some of the basic terminology, types and methods used in this essential intellectual activity.
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