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Chapter 2

PHI 1101 P - Chapter 2.docx

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Iva Apostolova

PHI 1101 PReasoning and Critical Thinking Chapter 2 – Language • What is language? • Atool of communication • Asystem of symbols • Aform of behaviour • Language has meaning and use, grammar (rules of use), and it requires a context (consider the metaphor ‘You were offered a pig in a poke!’) • Ambiguity and vagueness are part and parcel of language! • Ambiguity: when a word has more than one precise meaning/interpretation and we are not sure which meaning is being used in a given statement? • Vagueness: when a word doesn’t have a precise meaning/interpretation • To avoid ambiguity and vagueness, we have created specialized technical languages, such as legal, computer, scientific language, etc. known as jargon • Ex. “Crash” is a total loss of computer programs and data • Ex. “BASIC” stands for “Beginner’sAll-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code” • Ex. “Mojo” stands for the sexual power ofAustin Powers • Politically correct language: descriptive and evaluate words  Terrorists – freedom words  Well-known – renowned/distinguished/notorious  Deaf/crippled-disabled  Poor/economically challenged  Secretary – personal assistant • Ordinary language: our everyday/ common language • Ordinary language reformers: Luce Irigaray  The way we speak determines the way we think: so, ordinary language has to be reformed.  Ordinary language can be disambiguated if we are careful about its use  Example: ‘illusion’, ‘delusion’, and ‘hallucination’  C.L. Stevenson: our understanding of morality depends on our understanding of the word ‘good’ • The ‘logic of language’  Ludwig Wittengenstein: ordinary language is too vague and ambiguous and we should reduce it to its foundation, logic (the set of rules that govern reasoning)  Ex. ‘There is nothing outside’vs. ‘There is not a thing that is outside’  The moral: language is a difficult tool that needs constant maintenance  Away to do that: try to give precise definitions of the word we use • Adefinition: an explanation of the meaning of a word • The meaning of the word is the set of rules or conditions that govern its use • Adefinition allows us to distinguish one word from another as well as to understand how to use new words • Sense is known as connotation of the word and it is what we understand when we understand the meaning of a word • Reference or denotation is the class of things that the word belongs to • The word ‘plate’means a flat dish for servicing food.And it refers to the class of all such objects in the world, past, present, and future • All words have sense but not all have reference • Words such as ‘the’, ‘unlike’, etc. do not have reference Some Basic Terms: • Idea: anything that our mind produces • Thought: an organization of ideas • Ideal: a perfect, desirable example of something • Concept: a general abstract, idea • Reason: 1) a motive, 2) the rational part of our mind through which we reason, 3) cause • Value: a principle/moral standard according to which groups of people lead • Belief: 1) faith, 2) confidence, 3) opinion • Norm: a standard of behavior that we can reasonably expect from people • Convention: the customs or practices established by a culture • Principle: personal or objective law of action or theory • Rule: a more rigid/strict principle • Vagueness: the lack of precise meaning  Vagueness is not always undesirable!  Ex: I have other plans for tonight (deliberately vague). • Ambiguity: when two or more precise meanings are conflated and/or confused  Ambiguity is always to be avoided! • Three types of ambiguity:  Referential: occurs when the referring word or phrase can be interpreted as pointing to more than one thing  This may result in two things: either the other person is confused about which thing we’re referring to ((‘your keys is on the table’) but which table?), or the other person believes that we’re referring to the wrong thing  Ex. The keys are always in the last place you look. (the last place to look or the last place you in fact looked)  Ex. Ms. Leigh was reportedly upset upon hearing thatAlfred Hitchcock had wanted a much bigger actress for the role she played in Psycho (size or stardom?)  Grammatical: occurs when the grammatical
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