Saturday, March 19, 2011

are stipulative definitions a source basic knowledge?

Random thought:

Whether or not its OK to make a certain stipulative definition can depend very messy questions - and not just mathematically messy questions like questions about harmony.
For example: it would seem that it's OK to stipulate that people are to count as "gleb" whereas bodies are not to count as "gleb" if and only if people are distinct from their bodies.

This suggests that knowledge by stipulative definition is not a source of basic knowledge. (basic knowledge= justified belief that doesn't depend on any other beliefs for justification) For, you can say 'of course people are gleb and bodies aren't, thats just what I mean by the term! remember when I stipulatively defined it...'. But (it would appear) the justificatory buck doesn't stop when you say this. If you are unjustified in thinking that bodies are distinct from people, this would seem to poison your justification for making and appealing to this stipulative definition.

However, perhaps we should say that only some stipulative definitions do have prima facie warrant, and the above stipulation about glep is just not one of the ones that does.

p.s. if we say that stiplative definitions aren't basic knowledge, we will probably want to say that analyticities aren't either.

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