"…for though mankind hath so many millions of ideas, more than they have names, yet so foolish and lavish are we, that too often we use some words in mere waste and have no ideas for them; or at least our ideas are so exceedingly shattered and confused, broken and blended, various and unsettled, that they can signify nothing toward the improvement of the understanding."


Definition Theory

Definition problems have always been thorny, but theorists of the last two centuries have multiplied problems many times over. Modern conundrums exceed the prolixity of the scholastics—and the scholastics were notorious for their enigmatic divisions and vaporous extrapolations.

Many scholars are distressed with modern linguistics. Gertrude Himmelfarb in her 1992 article, "The Abyss Revisited" bemoaned the inability of experts to talk with each other. As a result, most courses in linguistics describe different theories rather than read literature. She says,

Todays students often read books on how to read books - - - literary theory has replaced literature … Gerald Graff reasons that since the various literary theories are irreconcilable, the only solution is to make them the focus of instruction.


But things have not always been so confused. Historically, between scholastic frills and modern mystification was a period in which thoughts about definition fell in line with full-fledged affirmative logic and became noticeably accepted in the rational style of the day. This mental event includes popular writers such as Isaac Newton, Joseph Addison, Richard Steel, Ben Franklin, Geo. Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Noah Webster, etc. The logic adopted by this group is exemplified, to a respectable extent, by Antoine Arnauld and Isaac Watts in their works on Logic (1662) and Right Reason. (1725)

While none of the people mentioned above, achieved pure coherent reason, they all adopted enough affirmative logic so that sound rational thinking held a strong sway in their mental attitudes. Insofar as they followed their logical ideals, this group could converse cordially with each other and bring forth valuable contributions to society. During this period, serious problems developed—but not from logic. The difficulties can be traced to occasions when people failed to follow through with their commitment to right reason.

In regard to semantics and definition theory, linguistic ideas in the movement of the 17th and 18th century were simple enough so the average citizen with a fair education could apply standard definition principles to practice and engage in constructive civil discourse. The general public, in some areas, agreed on the basics enough, so that, when they actually applied theory, they could adhere to high standards of personal integrity and generously give one another the benefit of the doubt.

In today’s world, we could upgrade negotiation quality if we learned to reinforce and develop past theory that is sound and has worked — and improved on it, rather than rejecting it. We make improvements by acknowledging aspects of past definition theory that are sound. Along with this, we should correct mistakes as we discover them. It is a matter of sorting values of the past to improve values or the present and set us on a more safe and sane course for the future. In plus definition set, this process is called affirmative sorting mentality. We all do it to some extent and should do more.

Rational improvement comes, not by rejecting the basics of sound rational thinking, but by enhancing and clarifying root verities. If we spot and contain the elemental that have invaded modern rational style, then more positive values will come to dominate as a matter of course.

It is interesting to note that U.S. founders, in their education, learned the essential requirements of affirmative logic including affirmative definition theory. As already mentioned, they differed among themselves in lesser points of logical theory and we, today, can find many instances in which they failed to apply affirmative theory in their pursuits. But they shared enough commitment to basic unbiased reason so that fundamental logical values came into dominance as the rational style among a prominent group of thinkers. The plus system refers to this aspect of history as the genuine enlightenment in which the fundamentals of sound rational thinking came into a semi-dominant position in intellectual society. The genuine enlightenment was distinctly different from other Eighteenth Century theories that were riddled totalitarian attitudes of absolutism and/or subjectivism.

Unfortunately we do not have a philosopher who has satisfactorily captured the true spirit of the genuine enlightenment. Antoine Arnauld (1611-1694), Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and Whately, (1787-1863) come close but they make too many blunders to qualify as exemplars of fully formed affirmative logic. However, in the major portion of their works they are very good. With updating, they capture and express the elemental requirements of sound rational thinking.

Arnauld is an important figure in the history of logic because he simplified logical theory and, at the same time, made some breakthrough discoveries that raised the options of civil discourse into a new era of possibilities. Isaac Watts wrote an upgraded Protestant version of Arnauld’s logic. Watts polished many of Arnauld’s rough edges, but Arnauld was the creative originator.

In affirmative logic, the purpose of a definition is to clarify meaning. When we keep this purpose in mind, basic definition rules are easy to learn and can be applied by anyone with a rudimentary education and a modicum of understanding. As an example, let’s take a few remarks from Arnauld’s Port Royal Logic concerning definition theory and show how what he said then still fits today. Remember, this is only a sampling. Each example is numbered to make reference easier, but the numbering, otherwise, has no particular significance. This short list is in no way exhaustive. It includes enough to suggest a distinct attitude towards definitions, semantics, and linguistics stemming from affirnative definitions theory. Defintion

Definition Rule 1

The definition should be clearer than the term defined.

In the Port Royal Logic, published 1662 (the year Blaise Pascal died) Arnauld wrote,

A definition must be informative—that is, the defining words must express a clearer, more distinct idea than does the defined word. A definition must enable us to understand the nature of any referent of the defined word sufficiently to account for the referent’s principal characteristics.

Antoine Arnauld

In expanding on this thought, Arnauld mentions that many of Aristotle’s definitions do not meet this requirement. For one, Arnauld criticizes Aristotle’s definition of "motion". Later (p. 324) Arnauld experiments with his own definition which adumbrates Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. Newton was about 21 years old when the Port Royal Logic was published. Arnauld may have annexed his ideas about motion from Descartes or Pascal whom he knew as an acquaintance and as a friend respectively. When spokesmen of the genuine enlightenment spoke of clear and distinct ideas, this general rule and its usefulness, Rule 1 is often what they had in mind. The definition should be more clear and distinct than the term defined. If not, it should be left alone.

Definition Rule 2

When the meaning is already clear enough for the occasion, there is no need for a definition.

In affirmative discourse this rule is practiced as a matter of course. People in tune with the requirements of sound rational thinking do not over load their writing with definitions. They use definitions only enough to fit the need. In truth, if the definition does not promote clarity and understanding, it is worse than no definition at all. Arnauld clearly supported this requirement. He wrote,

Our first observation is that no attempt should be made to define all words; such an attempt would be useless, even impossible, to achieve. To define a word which already expresses a distinct idea would be useless; for the goal of definition—to join to a word one clear and distinct idea—has already been attained. Words which express ideas of simple things are understood by all and require no definition.

Antoine Arnauld

Some modern theorists ridicule old theories because of their so-called insistence on defining every word and their failure to understand the subtleties of language. These cruel critics get their information from each other and apparently don’t take time to actually study what the people they lambaste actually said and really did. They create straw men and with much gusto knock them down. Autocratic radicals often call themselves "scientific" in their criticisms. From a plus point of view, there something wrong when people who call themselves "scientific" in practice perpetuate deceptions as if they were "facts", especially when the truth is as close as the nearest library? It is a puzzle why these pseudo-scientific detractors get away with what they do. This is a major philosophical problem of our present time that needs to be addressed.

Definition Rule 3

Terms at their source are arbitrary, but the ideas symbolized are not arbitrary.

In affirmative definition theory, beginners learn to distinguish between the words used and the ideas meant. They work to develop the language skills needed to convey the idea in mind. In affirmative logic, communicating the idea is the prime objective. To appreciate this aspect of definition theory, we need to understand the arbitrary aspects of terminology. Arnauld would agree. He said,

… the word ‘arbitrary’ is misleading. That a given idea be joined to one sound rather than another is arbitrary; but the ideas themselves—at least the clear and distinct ones—are not arbitrary, nor do they depend upon the imagination.

Antoine Arnauld

Competent teachers of the Trivium, (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) expanded on this point until students learned this lesson. Being able to distinguish between the word as symbol and the concept or meaning is fundamental to appreciating the value and simplicity of affirmative logic. Writers who miss this point easily slip into serious root errors and set forth theories of language that damage, rather then help, our abilities to communicate. When communication quality declines, our ability to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner also goes down hill.

Definition Rule 4

In forming appropriate definitions, it is important to recognize that equivocation is a fallacy but ambiguity is not a fallacy.

This rule was often phrased in different words than used here. The point to emphasize is that it is equivocation that affirmative logicians aim to avoid, not ambiguity. Affirmative logicians make a distinction between ambiguity and the fallacy of equivocation. These distinctions are crucial to understanding affirmative definition theory. Arnauld emphasized this point.

Careful use of definitions can clear up many disputes arising from the ambiguity of expressions which one disputant takes in one sense, and other in another sense. … When the idea we want to express by some word is not indicated precisely and clearly enough, it is almost impossible to avoid equivocating in the course of an argument.

Antioine Arnauld

In affirmative logic, students learn early on that equivocation is the fallacy of four terms and is to be avoided in legitimate research and civil discourse. The need to avoid the Fallacy of Four Terms was drummed in the heads of young students who were exposed to affirmative. Once learned by enough influential people, these insights became aspects of the rational style and were used as a matter of course. The distinction between ambiguity and equivocation is fundamental to understanding affirmative definition theory. If we miss this point, we easily become derailed. A good logic teacher puts this point across. People who don’t appreciate this distinction, will not be able to critically appreciated the intellectual depth of affirmative logic.

Arnauld believed that equivocation is a major source of error in demonstration and disputation. He was convinced that a more careful attention to definition could clear up many problems. He said,

Our discussion makes evident that we must not abuse the maxim: Words may be arbitrarily defined. The idea to be joined to a given word must be indicated so clearly and so precisely that subsequent to the definition the defined word cannot be equivocated upon: We must be able everywhere to substitute the definition for the defined word without producing any absurdity.

Antoine Arnauld

Definition Rule 5

Avoiding equivocation does not mean avoiding metaphor.

Affirmative logic encourages uncommon rhetorical skill. Historically this was the case as a matter of course. Few things in history are as clear as the emphasis Western Civilization has placed on the importance of rhetoric which emphasized that good writing uses metaphor, simile, analogy, allegory, and all figures of speech. The period in which the Trivium was basic to education, was a period in which poetry thrived. In commonsense rhetoric, fine poetry is a gem to be prized. To play on the ambiguity of terms is praiseworthy as long as rhetorical frolic does not sink to the deception of equivocation. Affirmtive logic does not squelch speculation and lyrical reflection. Arnauld underscores the value of rhetoric in several places. For example, he says,

One of the principle beauties of discourse lies in its being pregnant with meaning so that the mind has occasion to form thoughts going beyond those explicitly expressed.

Antoine Arnauld

Definition Rule 6

In communication, as long as equivocation is avoided, richness of meaning is valuable.

In the genuine enlightenment, metaphor was valued as a natural part of language that, properly used, contributes to the beauty of expression. In regard to enthymenes and enthymenatic sentences, Arnauld says,

One of the greatest defects of discourse is to be barren of meaning and to suggest few thoughts. Textbook syllogisms almost inevitably display this fault. The mind moves more quickly than the tongue, and often from the expression of one premiss the mind easily supplies the second so that the latter’s expression becomes useless. So textbook syllogisms are rarely found in daily discourse; instinctively we discard all that bores us and confine ourselves to the minimum necessary to convey our meaning.

Antoine Arnauld

What Arnauld says in the above paragraph should be studied with meticulous care if we wish to understand the definition theory that was coming into vogue during the genuine enlightenment. People who picked up on these ideas learned to apply syllogistic requirements in a balanced, intelligent, practical manner. To miss this point, is to miss the better part of western civilization. The radical critics ignore the real power and values of affirmative logic. They present a counterfeit view of traditional logic and proceed as if they have refuted the values of commonsense.

Definition Rule 7

Well formed definitions promote sound rational thinking and facilitate civil discourse.

Affirmative logic holds as a basic requirement that: well-formed appropriate definitions are essential to sound rational thinking in complex matters. Arnauld supported this rule vigorously. He taught that many arguments were beside the point because people did not take time to come to terms. He mentions this over and over. For example, he wrote.

The second abuse is the practice of leaving ideas in confusion, a practice which results from a failure to join given words to certain clearly cited ideas by means of nominal definitions. Consequently, many disputes in philosophy are really only verbal. In his "proofs" a philosopher often makes use of what is clear and true in a confused idea in order to establish something that is false and obscure—a deception which would be easily recognized had he defined the words he was using.

Antoine Arnauld

Remember that the above paragraph was written in 1662. Various rendition of Arnauld’s views were basic practice in education in our American colonies before independence. John Locke admired Arnauld and studied Arnauld’s logic. To understand Locke, one should first become familiar with Arnauld.

Definition Rule 8

To use definitions intelligently, the student should learn the distinction between speculative (nominal) and conventional (real) definitions and know when and how to apply each.

Most commonsense logic texts dwell on this point in detail. Arnauld devoted several pages to explaining this distinction. Although terms in their very first origins are arbitrary (nominal), once they have been adopted and become part of our language coinage, it is then incumbent upon us (in responsible rhetoric) to respect popular usage and preserve communication fluidity. At the same time, philosophers and technical writers often need, and for clarity should, use nominal definitions. Consequently, Arnauld, Isaac Watts, and others devoted much space to clarifying these distinctions. Arnauld says,

We must now make clear the distinction between nominal and real definitions. In a real definition we do not arbitrarily join an idea to a word being defined; instead we allow the idea that is ordinarily joined to the word to remain while attempting to discover what other ideas are contained in the idea the word ordinarily expresses. . . . Real definitions are in marked contrast to nominal definitions since in nominal definitions we arbitrarily assign to a given sound any idea we please by means of words we already understand. . . . a nominal definition is a writer’s arbitrary assigning of the meaning to a word without concern for common usage in order that his discourse might be understood. [B46p82]

Antoine Arnauld

I, of course, cannot go back and listen in to the lectures in class rooms of old, but having read many old Trivium text books and studied educational philosophy of pre-modern times, I am convinced that a significant portion of lecture time was devoted to teaching the distinction between stipulated (nominal) and conventional (real) definitions. People educated traditional affirmative logic, knew that a stipulated definition was arbitrary and that a conventional definition was not arbitrary. For people who learned affirmative logic, it was part of the accepted rational style and became assumed as virtually self-evident.

The distinction between conventional (real) and speculative (nominal) definitions is important. One of the great advantages of the genuine enlightenment is that many educated people understood this distinction. Once we know what to look for, it is possible to reread writers of those periods and discover who understood these distinctions and who didn’t. Thomas Hobbes obviously did not, which is one of the reasons he made so many outrageous mistakes.

Definition Rule 9

A poorly formed definition is worse than no definition at all.

As an example of this rule, Arnauld used the term ‘cause’. He pointed out that our understanding of the idea symbolized by the term ‘cause’ is more clear than philosophers attempts at a definition. He maintained that philosophy would be better served if philosophers would leave the word ‘cause’ undefined rather than saddling it attempts at definition that miss the point. He wrote.

The Schoolmen’s general definitions of ‘cause’ as ‘that which produces an effect’ or as ‘that by which a thing is’ are very obscure and are difficult to apply to particular cases. To leave the word ‘cause’ undefined would have been much wiser; for the idea we have of cause is as clear as any of the definitions given.

Antoine Arnauld

Think of the problems avoided if modern ideologists would pay attention to this rule. It is still true today that most so-called explanations of "cause" are less clear than the general idea most of us have in our head. If the definition is not clearer than the term defined, it is better to leave the term undefined. This rule should be inscribed with flashing neon lights over the portal of every university.

Definition Rule 10

We should recognize the limits of definitions. We should not expect definitions to do what they can’t do.

Affirmative logic emphasizes our human limits over and over. In the genuine enlightenment, this was especially true in definition theory. Affirmative thinkers, insofar as they stayed within the realm of commonsense, knew their limits. Plus root theory accentuates this rule.

Arnauld emphasized that definitions are limited. He maintained that it is very foolish to pretend definitions extend to infinity. Definitions have inherent limitations. "To define too much is as great a failing as to define too little". Arnauld devoted considerable space to explaining this point. For example, he wrote,

Further, it is impossible to define all words. In defining we employ a definition to express the idea which we want to join to the defined word; and if we then wanted to define "the definition" still other words would be needed—and so on to infinity. Hence, it is necessary to stop at some primitive words, which are not defined. To define too much is just as great a failing as to define too little. Either way we fall into the confusion that we claim to avoid.

Antoine Arnauld

Definition Rule 11

Definitions are important but they should not be irksome.

In commonsense unbiased logic, the purpose of definition is to increase understanding and improve communication. When definitions become irksome they no longer improve communication. When definitions fail to serve their purpose, they are best left undone. Arnauld emphasized this point and says it is not a new idea. He quotes St. Augustine as saying,

…repeated circumlocutions make a work tiresome. [B46p85].

Antoine Arnauld

Arnauld also quotes Seneca,

"What is so divided as to be pulverized is confusing." (Seneca, Epistles, LXXXIX. 3)

Antoine Arnauld

Affirmative definition theory views the forming of good definitions as an art form. Definitions should clarify meaning without being annoying or pedantic. Once we learn to recognize that this what many writers of that period were doing, it’s a delight to appreciate the technique. Being human, they often slipped from this ideal, but when they succeeded they excelled. Even when they didn’t quite succeed, this is what they were aiming to achieve and it helped give unity to their writing.

Definition Rule 12

Words have connotations above and beyond the defined meaning.

Just because a word is defined does not mean that the given definition exhausts the implications of the term. A definition is like the borders of a country. For example, we cross an arbitrary line and step from Wyoming into Montana. We still can explore Wyoming and Montana to our hearts content. Drawing a surveyed line does not change the terrain of either state. Drawing edges around our ideas is useful for communication. On some occasions we need clear lines and on other occasions trying to establish distinct lines gets in the way.

No lexical definition can reflect the whole impression the defined word has on the mind. . . . It often happens that a word excites in our minds, besides the principal idea which we regard as the proper meaning of the word, other ideas—ideas which we may call accessory ideas and to which though we receive their impression we do not explicitly attend.

Antoine Arnauld

Arnauld has much to say about accessory ideas and their emotional effect on communication. He points out that some words may share principle meanings and yet have different accessory meanings and he gives examples. He also discuss the speakers voice, facial expressions and gestures and gives examples of how they can affect the intensions communicated. He says,

The tone of voice can convey as much meaning as the words themselves.

Antoine Arnauld

Definition Rule 13

The emotional effect of a word is very important and should be used to augment truth not submerge it.

Working to establish clear definitions where needed does not mean we ignore the power of our emotions. Traditional rhetoric teachers were sensitive to the importance emotions in human performance. Arnauld, along with many others, believed that human nature is a unit of a material body and spiritual soul. In his view, both physiological and intellectual talents are important. To ignore either is inhuman and unhealthy. The unity of material body and spiritual soul was so fundamental to the genuine enlightenment that it was usually assumed as a given. Arnauld makes many remarks that clarify this point. For example, he said,

Although the soul is instructed by true propositions, it is rarely moved saved by expressions of emotion.… Knowing that the figurative style conveys emotions along with meanings, we can specify the appropriate use and proper subject matter of the styl e… to express in a dry, cold manner without warmth of emotion ideas which ought to be impressive is a fault.

Antoine Arnauld

Arnauld maintains that a subject should be approached with an appropriate emotional pitch.

The mind’s pleasure is found more in experiencing emotions than in acquiring scraps of information.

Antoine Arnauld

Definition Rule 14

Conventional (real) definitions should be protected as much as practical so as to preserve continuity of language wisdom.

Words have a tendency over time to accrue nuances, which, if left unchecked, can significantly alter the conventional definition. Also, words can be manipulated to disguise meaning, to indoctrinate simple minded people and to control public opinion. This brings up one of the most challenging moral questions of our day. Should we use our intelligence to control this tendency in the interest of impartial truth, right reason, clear understanding and continuity with the past or should we take advantage of this tendency to manipulate emotions and bring our pre-designated agenda to power? Affirmative philosophy favors the former course.

Arnauld also favored the former course. He wrote:

Existing definitions should not be changed unless reasonable objection can be made to them … We should follow custom as far as possible—p88 - The alchemist makes a practice of flaunting common usage. He delights in changing, for no good reason, the names of almost everything of which he speaks. eg: alchemist thought the plague = lead poisoning = a Saturnian evil—cure wear about the neck a small piece of lead (called by the chemists ‘saturn’) which was engraved on Saturday (which derives its name from Saturn) the figure by which astronomers represent the planet Saturn. How Absurd -- Read On -chimerical Rosicrucian Brotherhood --

Antoine Arnauld


The above 14 rules are a thumbnail sketch of definition theory as viewed by genuine enlightenment educators through the eyes of Antoine Arnauld (1611-1694). This quick sketch includes enough to show the orientation of definition theory among a specified class of writers in the 16th and 17th Century. To do justice to the subject, would require many books carefully researched.

In the above list of rules, lifts out affirmative comments by Arnauld. Unless a person studies everything Arnauld wrote, this technique distorts the picture.

From a plus point of view, many of Arnauld’s statements, not quoted here, are out dated, overbearing, misleading and false. Because some of his affirmative thoughts withstand the ravages of time (Arnauld published in 1662, over 300 years ago) does not mean that modern affirmative thinkers endorse everything Arnauld wrote. From a plus point of view if Arnauld had not made some elemental mistakes the world would be a better place today.

However, Arnauld gave to valid logical expression that was a significant improvement for his time. The part he did well, he did very well. He invigorated right reason and encouraged the search for impartial truth. The overall thrust of his writings is so dominantly affirmative that the drag of the negative is relatively insignificant.

From an affirmative point of view, it is not necessary to be perfect in order to make improvements. It would be helpful to correct Arnauld’s mistakes, but his verities are so strong that the damage of his errors is confinable—that is, for those who choose to do so.

What is important for this discussion, is that behind the rules of affirmative logic is the unmistakable conviction that definitions should clarify meaning. It is the meaning that counts. The whole object of the affirmative approach to definition theory is to clarify meaning and to increase understanding. It is a basic tenet of plus root theory that: Effectiveness is important, but effectiveness is secondary to meaning in our search for truth, peace, and justice. In commonsense communication, intension is always of higher value than self-serving expediency.

Although Arnauld’s definition theory requires many pages to explain, generally speaking, it is easy to understand. His text, with a few obvious deletions, could be taught today in a 5th grade class and students could comprehend, learn, and apply his definition requirements. Affirmative definition theory possesses an intelligible "simplicity" that blends with commonsense.

Essential Definitions

To speculative (nominal) and conventional (real) plus root theory adds a third type called "essential". An essential definition is an effort to reach the essence or core meaning from which conventional usage has developed.

Essential is the type definition Socrates was seeking. He was attempting to discover meanings common to conventional philosophical terminology. Socrates did much for the development of logic and of civilization by undertaking this project. He also caused problems with mistakes in his elemental theory. He failed to deal with the compound problem that: 1. a philosophical term can acquire more than one essential meaning over time and 2. to clarify discussion, we need to uncover these divergent intensions. Root errors were not all that serious as made by Socrates and Plato. The serious consequences develop from the failure of their followers to make proper and fair corrections.

This brings us to an especially damaging root error. Philosophers over the centuries have given so many inappropriate interpretations to core philosophical terms that our inherited philosophical vocabulary is on the verge of being useless. Core terms, such as ‘truth’, ‘reason’, ‘logic’, ‘reality’, ‘certainty’, ‘idea’ are saddles with so many inappropriate, inefficient, and contradictory interpretations that the essential meaning is on the verge of being canceled out. Plus system refer to this root error as word squandering. [See Chapter 25]

In discussing the plus version of affirmative philosophy, it has been necessary to build a language we share so we can discuss simple ideas.


Coming in touch with affirmative definition theory is important for many reasons. One of the major reasons that modern thinkers should develop affirmative definition theory is because this is the area in our intellectual life over which we have most control. We can easily learn the difference between stipulated, conventional, and essential definitions and clarify our meaning so we can talk to each other more constructively. It’s a matter of choice. It’s not abstruce but it takes effort. But if people would work together, giant strides could be made in a short period of time.

Clarifying definitions does not suppress freedom of thought. It is just the opposite. As we clarify our definitions we open flood gates of fresh insights. We increase our abilities to communicate and learn from each other.

Significant change in the definition of a term is a consequential change in the meaning of the term. For example, here in the USA in the last several years we have undergone a radical change in the commonly accepted understanding of truth. This is revolution turns society more toward the negative, as has happen so often in Europe. A definition change should not be taken lightly.

The consequences of inverting the meaning of truth are far reaching. For example, if we consider truth to be the goal of education, and we radically change in the definition of truth, then we have radically changed the goal of education. From a plus point of view, this radical change in the goal of education is one of the major reasons we are having so many serious education problems in our country today. How strange that there is so little discussion of this aspect of our educational problems.

If our method of research is to follow the requirement of sound rational thinking and we radically change the meaning of rational we virtually invert the methods of scientific research we endorse. The meaning of idea has undergone an equally radical revision of meaning with equally serious consequences. Surprisingly the significance of this change does not come up in discussion very often.

Altering the meanings of core terminology is serious business. And yet we seem to do it at the toss of a hat. It is curious that our generation, who study so many issues at length, seem to ignore the most important problems. We are willing to risk loosing that which we value most on the turn of a definition and not even bother to wink.

In developing definitions, the plus system tries to follow the rules listed above and more.