What Is A Planet Essay

809 Words 4 Pages
A philosophically good definition can be very hard to come by for most concepts, ideas, and even simple words. The reason for this is because in order to be considered a good definition in the philosophy world it must follow three basic rules. The three rules, in short, are that it must not be just a bunch of examples, it must contain the essence of what is being defined, and lastly the definition and its concepts must be clearer than the word being defined. It may sound simple at first however, I will attempt to form a definition for the word “planet” and show you how difficult it can really be. For the first rule, it cannot be just a bunch of examples, the emphasis is highlighted on the word “just.” It is more than acceptable to use examples …show more content…
The definition must contain the essence of what is being defined. The essence, in our example, is really what makes a planet a planet. In order to test for this you must make sure the definition is neither too broad nor to narrow. For example, if I say that a planet is an object in space that orbits a star it sounds like a decent definition. However, this definition includes more than just planets. Many other things, such as moons, asteroids, and random debris all commonly orbit stars. These items are not planets so the definition would be deemed “too broad.” On the other end of the spectrum, we can try to be more specific and say that a planet is a large, solid, object in space with its own moon or moons that orbits a star. This seems like it covers the bases of a planet but its leaving out too much. The word “solid” itself eliminates too many planets such as the gas giants in our own solar system. According to this definition, Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, and Uranus are all left out because they are made of gas and therefore not “solid.” This goes to show how difficult the second rule can …show more content…
First of all, the concepts in the definition cannot be more complex than the item begin defined. In the planet example, if I state that the planet must “contain enough mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium [1]” then most people won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. This may help define a planet but if someone reading the definition can’t understand hydrostatic equilibrium then the definition isn’t really serving its purpose. A way to clear this up is to simplify the concept which in this case we can just say is big enough to be mostly spherical. This is more acceptable than the previous wording because it’s easy to understand. The second part of the third rule is that the definition can’t be circular. In its most basic form this means that the word being defined can’t be used in the definition. For example, defining pain as “a painful experience” doesn’t work because if someone doesn’t understand pain then they certainly won’t understand the word painful which just brings them back to step one, hence being called

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