Semantic Negligence, Persuasive Definition, and degraded discourse, oh my! [excerpt
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Semantic Negligence, Persuasive Definition, and degraded discourse, oh my! [excerpt
02-26-2017, 02:01 PM
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Lightbulb Semantic Negligence, Persuasive Definition, and degraded discourse, oh my! [excerpt
[Image: bokmal.gif]
If you wish to communicate with me, first define your terms.
--Voltaire
The problem with communication is the illusion that it's occurred.
—William H. Whyte

From the book, Bullshit And Philosophy, in Raising The Tone, Andrew Aberdein includes:

Sense, Reference, and Tone
The sense of a term is what we understand if we understand what the word means.
The reference, however, is the thing which the word picks out. Hence, as German logician Frege explains, “a proper name (word, sign, combination of signs, expression) expresses its sense, [but] stands for or designates its reference. By employing a sign we express its sense and designate its reference.”
For example, the sense of ‘the longest river in the world’ is just what we understand by the words in this phrase. Clearly having that understanding does not depend on knowing what the reference is (the River Nile, all four thousand miles of it), let alone on having seen the river in question.
The last of Frege’s three divisions, tone, is the least familiar: it may be defined as that aspect of the meaning of an expression that is irrelevant to the truth value [or accuracy] of any sentence in which it may occur.
In languages with large vocabularies, like English, it is often possible to restate a phrase using different words, but preserving both sense and reference. Continuing with the earlier example, consider ‘Earth’s lengthiest natural watercourse.’ The change here is one of tone.
Tone is the part of meaning from which we must abstract before logical analysis can begin. This abstraction is essential to the representation of inference in terms of logical form.

Persuasive Definition (PD)
A persuasive definition (PD) of a term is to alter the descriptive meaning of the term, but not make any substantial change in the term’s emotive meaning; ‘descriptive’ versus ‘emotive’ meaning.

The emotivist theory of ethics, sometimes called the Boo-Hurrah Theory: where ethical terms, such as ‘good’, are merely expressions of an emotional attitude [or opinion].

Semantic Negligence (spurious definitions)
Semantic negligence is a category of linguistic misbehaviour wherein indifference, to unawareness as to the referent value of statements-- that is whether they are true or false, accurate or inaccurate, a meaning-related or semantic property. Semantic negligence may arise with respect to any features of meaning, and is itself a matter of degree.

In the case of semantic negligence we suggest that different degrees of negligence are possible, depending on the risk of deception occurring and how much at fault the speaker is in not foreseeing that deception would result.

Many definitions are inseparable from the theories which produce them: To chose a definition is to plead a cause. There’s no reason to accept such definitions unless one is convinced by the arguments with which the theory is defended.
This situation is common in scientific contexts, where it is typically unproblematic: good practice requires the definer to make the theoretical indebtedness of his definitions explicit.
Definers in natural language are likely to be less scrupulous, hence their interlocutors may be misled into endorsing the conclusions of arguments they would not judge sound, were they to be given a fair opportunity to appraise them.
The resulting deception may be deliberate, but is just as likely to be inadvertent: it is easy to confuse oneself as well as others with this sort of definition. Such behaviour is less culpable than outright deceit, just as bullshit is less blameworthy than lying, but as with bullshit, it is also peculiarly pernicious since it degrades the standards of discourse.
[condensing, minor formatting, mine --eye2i]

Is it voluntary? (because if it isn't, what inherently is it?)
And can it be voluntary, if there's indoctrination, intimidation, coercion, threats & initiation of violence?
[not to be confused with asking: can it be said to be "voluntary" even when such is present.?]
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