Athenaeum’s Jamison Gets Ingenious with Marriage

Jamison, Tracy 2011Deacon Tracy T.W. Jamison, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy for the Athenaeum of Ohio, defines marriage according to its essential ordinations and activities, using (fish) angling as a logical comparative. Does he make a reasonable case? Let us know your thoughts below.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision to strike down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional is an example of how basic definitions logically determine what is regarded as morally just and unjust.

            It is not always easy to define the obvious.  To define something requires us to specify its essence by indicating its form and matter.  A definition must specify a form by indicating a specific difference within a genus.  Thus the endeavor is often considered to be scientific or philosophical.  It generally requires some familiarity with basic logic.  Definitions delineate the extensions of terms which signify the specific natures of things.  A given description is a true definition if and only if it distinguishes all and only the members of a kind.  If a particular proposition fails to distinguish all and only the things of a kind, then it may be an adequate description, but it is not a definition.  Activities and relations can be defined as readily as substances can.  To take an example from Plato’s Sophist, the activity of angling can be defined as the activity of attempting to catch fish by means of a line and a hook.  Thus the proximate genus of angling is the activity of attempting to catch fish.  There are other ways, besides angling, to catch fish.  The specific difference of angling is the use of a line and a hook.  If we are not using a line and a hook, then we are not angling.  And every instance of using a line and a hook in an attempt to catch fish is a form of angling.

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