Language And Communication

DEFINING TERMS EMPIRICALLY AND RATIONALLY

Words has laudatory or derogatory meaning in its conventional lexical usage, and to try to preserve the implication that the word already has by building an evaluative component into the definition. A evaluative definition of ‘courage’ is pursuit of a good or worthy goal in spite of danger, fear, and/or severe difficulties of a painful nature. This is a positive connotation. As long as this is done in an event and clearly expressed way, is not deceptive and should not be an obstacle to having a productive ethical discussion on the nature of courage or on some issue in which ‘courage’ is key term.

Also in scientific research, because of the importance and frequency of statistical claim made about word like ‘gang’ in the media and in studying and dealing with crime. There will be all kinds of misleading statistical data unless the problem of defining the term ‘gang’ can be solved. It might also be added here that there are some disciplinary conflicts involved as well, for legal definitions are adopted for criminal law purposes, while sociological definitions are adopted for the purpose of scientific research on social group.

Some argued that definitions based on a vote have no special validity. The feeling was that voting would be an appropriate method to determine a lexical definition but a poor method of establishing the kind of stimulative definition needed for scientific research. Some researchers emphasizes that “the key element that distinguishes a gang from other organizations of young people is delinquency; its members regularly participate in activities that violate the law.” But this kind of definition is contentious because it builds a negative evaluation into the very definition of the term ‘gang’ and it is questionable whether such value-ladeness is appropriate in scientific research. But it might be questioned whether definitions that include illegal activity as an intrinsic defining property of the term ‘gang’ may include, by definition, the very delinquency that researchers and theorists are trying to explain.

If you do justice to the negative connotations of the term ‘gang’ by defining a gang as a group that has some illegal or immoral purposes, you have built in by definition, a value assumption that may make it difficult to explain gang delinquency in a non-circular way. But if you try to define the term ‘gang’ in neutral terms, without building in any negative implications, you may not be doing injustice to the way the term is really being used.

Would defining the term ‘gang’ in a negative connotation be a legitimate or acceptable definition of ‘gang’? It could be, if the definition is meant to be stimulative, but if the definition is also being used to represent the conventional idea of a ‘gang’ that is a self-formed for the purpose of helping cancer patients? Because the aim of this group is good, it is odd and potentially misleading to call it a ‘gang’. Generally, a definition should be a positive or negative slang of a term, or there should be a legitimate expectation that the presenter of the definition can explain why it has not done so.

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