• Barbara MaierEmail author
  • Warren A. Shibles†
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 47)


In the philosophy of medicine, as with philosophy in general, we may assume that words are meaningless and statements false until defined and defended. With an uncritical language we do not know what we are talking about. We typically fail to understand how definition works. Because there are many types of definition we often knowingly or unknowingly argue a case by equivocating between different definitions or by giving a false, biased, or persuasive definition. We cannot have absolutely true or literal definitions for anything. Definitions may be rather regarded as perspectival seeings-as. To define non-circularly is to relate different things. To define is to take a model or metaphor. Distinction is made between several types of definition. To define and critically examine given definitions will be a main task throughout this book.


Definition types of definition misuse of language circular statement equivocation universe of discourse word field literal definition metaphorical definition use in context definition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gynecology and ObstetricsParacelsus Medical University SALKSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin–WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA

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