The Appeal to Definition Fallacy: When People Misuse the Dictionary
Not every use of a definition is necessarily fallacious. If the definition is properly justified and is selected in a properly justified way, it is generally not fallacious. However, it is fallacious when at least one of the following conditions are true:
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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:
The argument from a dictionary is a logical fallacy and happens when someone's argument is based, in a problematic way, on the definition of a particular term as it appears in a dictionary. The problem with these arguments:
"We should ignore the theory of evolution because the dictionary says that a theory is just an opinion that you have about something you can't prove."
The person using this fallacy is basing their statement on a specific definition of the word "theory" while ignoring alternative definitions that will better capture the meaning of the term as it's used in a scientific context.
When responding to appeals to definition, it is useful to know the terms denotation, which is the literal meaning of a word, and connotation, which is a feeling the word evokes beyond its denotation.
The structure and use of dictionaries have changed as new technologies developed.
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