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Following are the main learning objectives from the chapter.
|Finding the Right Words: The Need for Precision|
- Students should understand that a failure to use precise language often leads to confusion and misunderstanding.
- Student should understand the concept of Vagueness and be able to identify instances of vague words. To this end, students should understand that . . .
- A word (or group of words) is vague when its meaning is fuzzy or inexact;
- Vague words typically divide things into three classes including:
- Those things to which the word clearly applies;
- Those things to which the word clearly does not apply;
- Those things to which the word may or may not apply (i.e. borderline cases);
- Vagueness admits of degrees. Though nearly all words are vague, some are more so than others.
- Though vague words are not always inappropriate, vague words should generally be avoided.
- Students should understand the concept of overgenerality and be able to identify instances of overgeneral words. To this end, students should learn to . . .
- distinguish overgenerality from vagueness and understand that . . .
- words are overgeneral if they are not specific enough in a given context.
- Students should understand the concept of ambiguity and be able to identify instances of ambiguous words and expressions. To this end, students should . . .
- understand that word or expression is ambiguous when it has two or more distinct meanings and where the context does not make clear which meaning is intended;
- understand how the use of ambiguous terms and expressions can contribute to misunderstanding and destroy the effectiveness of arguments;
- be able to distinguish ambiguity from vagueness and overgenerality;
- understand the distinction between a semantic ambiguity and a syntactical ambiguity or amphiboly.
- understand how ambiguity can lead to a verbal dispute and be able to distinguish such a case from a factual dispute.
|The Importance of Precise Definitions|
- Students should understand that arguments often depend upon clear and accurate definitions and note that . . .
- terms often need to be defined before a position is advanced.
- Students should be familiar with the different types of definitions. Students should be able to identify. . .
- a stipulative definition;
- a persuasive definition;
- a lexical definition;
- a precising definition.
- Students should be able to apply the different strategies for defining. To this end, students should . . .
- be able to develop ostensive definitions;
- produce enumerative definitions;
- be proficient at formulating a definition by subclass;
- be able to trace a term's etymology;
- be able to provide a synonym for a word;
- be able to define a term by genus and difference;
- avoid making definitions too broad or narrow;
- convey the essential meaning of the word being defined;
- provide a context for ambiguous words;
- avoid slanted definitions;
- avoid figurative definitions;
- avoid needlessly obscure definitions;
- avoid circular definitions.
|Emotive Language: Slanting the Truth|
- Students should understand the impact of emotive force on the meaning of words and phrases and . . .
- understand and recognize the difference between conveying information and appealing to feelings.
- Students should understand the concepts of denotation and connotation and be able to . . .
- recognize when an author appears to be using an emotive word unfairly to manipulate the reader;
- recognize when a is term likely to call for justification;
- identify when there is a more neutral way to make the same point;
|Euphemisms and Political Correctness|
- Students should understand euphemisms and how they are used to alter or obscure the meaning of a passage. To this end, students should . . .
- recognize when euphemisms are used to manipulate or confuse an audience;
- recognize when euphemisms serve the function of making language more accurate;
- recognize instances of political correctness.