Single Idea 12633

[catalogued under 1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 3. Analysis of Preconditions]

Full Idea

Attempts to define a term frequently elicit necessary but not sufficient conditions for membership of its extension. This is called the 'X problem', as in 'kill' means 'cause to die' plus X.


The 'extension' is the objects picked out by the concept

Gist of Idea

Definitions often give necessary but not sufficient conditions for an extension


Jerry A. Fodor (LOT 2 [2008], Ch.2.1 n3)

Book Reference

Fodor,Jerry A.: 'LOT 2: the Language of Thought Revisited' [OUP 2008], p.27

A Reaction

Fodor is one of the great sceptics about definition. I just don't see why we have to have totally successful definitions before we can accept the process as a worthwhile endeavour.