Although I believe that I now have some vague idea about what the fundamental subject matter of philosophy presumably concerns, I (nevertheless) still occasionally come across philosophical writings that demonstrate the insufficiency of my knowledge about certain specific areas of philosophy. One area in particular concerns the philosophy of word definitions. I have come across books (logic texts, for the most part) that provide very brief analyses of the subject of definitions right in the middle of a lot of subject matter unrelated to definitions, but I have found no undergraduate level text that exclusively covers the subject in detail. Nor have I come across any graduate level Philosophy Of Language text that does so either. So, can someone perhaps provide some titles of philosophy books that (hopefully, exclusively) provide comprehensive coverage of the subject of definitions?

  • (This should be confirmed by another user) Isnt Quines 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism' dealing with definitions?
    – Lukas
    Jul 14, 2014 at 16:52
  • @Lukas Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" is not an expository text. Although it does give a review of some of the history behind the analytic/synthetic distinction, it is primarily a challenge to the distinction.
    – Exit path
    Jul 14, 2014 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


I know of no such book. Your best shot is probably Circularity, Definition, and Truth by Gupta and Chapuis. From the blurb:

This volume consists of eighteen new essays, written by distinguished scholars, on topics that are of great interest to logicians and philosophers: definitions and the concept of truth. The essays fall into three groups. The first group defends the logical legitimacy and fruitfulness of circular definitions. The second group contributes to the philosophical debate over deflationism. The final group is concerned with recent logical theories of truth.

Alternatively, the SEP entry on definitions provides an introductory overview and is quite detailed.


There was a book by Robinson (I believe), titled just DEFINITION. Also, try THE GAME OF THE NAME, by ??. S. Barker's ELEMENTS OF LOGIC (last edition, 4?, & now out of print) had an especially lucid discussion with extensive end notes.

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