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Talk:Argumentum ad dictionarium

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See also: the fallacy of equivocation, and the other subtypes of ambiguity.--ZooGuard (talk) 10:24, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Broadening the sense, isn't this just "argument by/from definition"? (I just found out that one of the top results in Google for that phrase is a LessWrong post. :| )--ZooGuard (talk) 18:02, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

It's one of the better LW posts, actually. Scarlet A.pngmoralModerator 19:18, 1 October 2012 (UTC)


Not edited directly as the page contains signed original work, but:

The phrase "A belief in no God and no belief in God are semantically identical" under the example of atheism is incorrect. These are semantically different, although as the example indicates are functionally identical. (talk) 15:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC) EB

D'oh!! Scarlet A.pngmoral 17:41, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

This essay is an original work by signed users.[edit]

On the page. What does this mean?--Coffee (talk) 19:52, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

It means that the essay is an original work put together by whichever editors contributed (as given by the page history). The important point is that it's original work, in that it's not necessarily on mission and is not meant to be representative of the views of the wiki as a whole. - GrantC (talk) 19:59, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
In this particular case it was going to be an article, but the draft was a bit too essay-like, so it's now basically an essay open to contributions. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:01, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
So "by signed users" means what exactly? I can't seem to see the signatures. Where should I look?--Coffee (talk) 20:51, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
I believe it means the editors that have changed the article (check the page history to see the list). If I'm not mistaken, it's just a boilerplate to cover everyone who has contributed to the open essay. - GrantC (talk) 02:53, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
So a "signed user" is anybody who has ever contributed to the article? So in what way does it differ from anything else on the wiki?--Coffee (talk) 20:19, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not a proper main space article, basically. That's all that means. Nullahnung (talk) 20:38, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Then the "signed users" bit is both confusing and meaningless.--Coffee (talk) 20:41, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
You're right. I've changed it to "RationalWiki users". SophieWilderModerator 20:47, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Move to mainspace[edit]

This is a good piece and I don't see why it's not in mainspace, which doesn't have an article. SophieWilderModerator 22:02, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm not really sure where to put this in[edit]

I know it's pretty common for pescetarians (i.e. people who eat fish and seafood but no other animals) to falsely identify as vegetarians. While I don't recall any actually saying this, using the logic of the people who commit this fallacy, falsely calling oneself a vegetarian would in fact mean they actually don't eat the aforementioned foods, rather than them using the wrong word to describe themselves. TheSocktor (talk) 23:38, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

At what point is it warranted to appeal to definition?[edit]

"No, actually, you are wrong, look up what those words actually mean!" is what I want to say after I see the n-th pseudoscientist misuse "quantum" and the n-th average joe misuse "evolution" because they don't really understand natural selection... I would argue that appeal to definition is fallacious when there isn't a specific context to refer back to that would provide a correct definition of the concerning term in the conversation. Nullahnung (talk) 14:09, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

ad dictionariam[edit]

My knowledge of Latin declensions is sketchy, but if RW is going to use dog-Latin, shouldn't nouns be cast in an appropriate case? Slurm und Drang (talk) 07:39, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Probably. We could just rename he article to "appeal to definition" or smth and it wouldn't matter as much. Fuzzy. Cat. Potato! (talk/stalk) 15:13, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Making sure I understand.[edit]

Okay, thought experiment. Alice emotionally abuses her boyfriend Charlie, but never lays a finger on him in any negative way. He tells Bob that Alice is a violent abuser. Bob, being the curious sort, asks what she did. He explains that she continually abuses him emotionally, but never actually negatively touches him. After some thinking, Bob goes to a dictionary and confirms his suspicions about the definition of violence - it doesn't fit. Not even the one that seems like it might fit, after he thinks about it some more. He mentions this to Charlie who calls him out on Argumentum ad dictionarium. Is Charlie right? WittyUsername (talk) 18:48, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Pretty much. Although concentrating on what someone might calling stretching a definition misses the point of argumentum ad dictionarium, which is that dictionaries are not the authority on the meanings of words; rather they are a brief summary of how those words are used. Dictionaries don't try to capture every subtlety of meaning, and neither should they try to. In this case, using the word 'violence' to describe the behaviour is making the claim that it has more in common with, say, thumping someone than it would do with calling names in the street. In the context of domestic abuse, this is certainly and arguable claim. Queexchthonic murmurings 18:57, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
And in this online age, ad dictionarium also tends to be essentially copy/paste/linkspamming, i.e. simply copying some dictionary definitions in lieu of making an actual argument. However, as Queex also pointed out, ad dictionarium also tends to derail an argument by focusing on semantics, rather than engaging with the actual content, although dictionaries or similar descriptive sources can be helpful in case someone decides to make up their own definitions of various words or simply don't understand the meaning of the vocabulary they're using (the long winded back-and-forth with LogicMaster777 springs to mind). ScepticWombat (talk) 19:09, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
If someone crushed my dogs skull with a sledgehammer, and abused me otherwise or that was a "lesson", they would still be a very violent abuser. As in the adjective involving or likely to use physical violence. Strict dictionary definitions seem to be those strict definitions people using it like. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:00, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Alice would also have to change all the example uses in the Oxford multivolume set as well as all the documents (and images, video, audio) that Oxford cites. Keith McClary (talk) 20:55, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I would suggest that your thought experiment is an argument by Reductio ad absurdum which proves the opposite of your thesis. Keith McClary (talk) 21:14, 13 November 2017 (UTC)

Dear Queex[edit]

Why did you revert my edit for no apparent reason whatsoever?

The silly argument against[edit]

{This English word) means something quite different ('faux amis')/something rude in (another language). Anna Livia (talk) 11:47, 28 November 2021 (UTC)