Posted: Dec 18, 2011 8:50 am
by Ihavenofingerprints
jlowder wrote:
andrewk wrote:I think the point jlowder is making is that there's rarely any point in debating definitions, but there is a way to get around a disagreement over a definition and into a meaningful discussion of the concepts of interest. One such way is to accept your opponent's definitions - insisting only that they must be made absolutely coherent and unambiguous, but not worrying about whether it is a definition you would personally give to the word in question. Then you state your position in terms of word meanings your opponent accepts. In this case, the atheist (as defined by the dictionary) says to the theist "I'm not an atheist [as you, the theist, understand the term], but I am an agnostic [as you, the theist, understand the term]". By so doing, communication is achieved, and further the burden of proof remains with the theist.

This is no different to learning a new language, or even a local dialect, and then using it rather than your own native dialect, to aid communication between yourself and a speaker of that dialect.

I couldn't have said (or written) it better myself, andrewk!

Agreed, I'll try this next time. Usually I insist I use my definitions (or similar) because using the theist's, I am an agnostic, even though I disagree with most people who would label themselves "agnostic". And I'd have to call myself agnostic about santa to be consistent.

But this just results in an argument that goes nowhere. Also, it's an argument they can't lose (and many people consider not losing = winning)