Definitions and Definability

  • Veikko Rantala
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 216)


Traditionally, the word ‘definition’ means something like explicit definition and, mainly in the philosophy of science, a very limited class of its generalizations. Traditional accounts of definability are often vague and obscure, however, so that it is not always clear what the word stands for. Hence, it is instructive to place definitions in a more formal framework, as we shall see. Such a maneuvre brings forth sophistication which is not practicable in discursive terms — which may sound somewhat paradoxical to philosophers who are accustomed to think of formal methods as yielding intellectual restrictions rather than sophistication. Conversely, there are important pragmatic aspects of definition which cannot be dealt with by using logical tools but rather tools borrowed from the philosophy of language.


Elementary Logic Explicit Definition Individual Constant Syntactic Form Pragmatic Aspect 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veikko Rantala
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematical Sciences/PhilosophyUniversity of TampereUSA

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