The Definition Argument answers the questions "What is it?" "What category does it belong to?" In other words, the Definition Argument attempts to assign a specific case to a larger category because it shares the essential characteristics of that category. Examine the following definition claim:
The definition argument requires that we generate a list of essential criteria of the y term (category). Thus, the essential criteria of an environmentallyunsound farming practice might look like the following:
The underlying structure of the definition argument's enthymeme can be expressed as x is y because it possesses the characteristics A, B, C, D, . . .
The definition argument has two areas of major concern: 1) the criteria and whether they sufficiently characterize the y term (category), and 2) the match, or whether the x term (specific case) actually possess the criteria.
In the above example, our concern about the criteria might lead us to question whether the category of environmentallyunsound farming practices need be characterized by "significant or irreparable" damage. Perhaps, we could argue, any damage at all constitutes an environmentallyunsound farming practice. Notice that, at this point, the discussion of the criteria isn't concerned at all with the x term (hog factory) at all. Rather, the criteria discussion focusses on accurately characterizing the y term (category).
During the match
portion of the definition argument, on the
other hand, our concern is to demonstrate that the criteria apply to the
x term (hog factory). We are obligated to prove that a hog farm does indeed
damage the environment, that such damage is significant, that it threatens
area wildlife, and that it poses health risks to nearby human populations.
