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TheZigs

Objectivist Theory of Concepts: Is a Person Without Arms a Person

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Hello all

 

I was reading ITOE recently, and encountered the section in which Rand describes no one trait as contingent. The example she used specifically was man as a rational animal. She said that, though it is true that the referent for the concept "man" includes rational animal, all of the traits of man are included in the concept man. We can agree that men, at least normal ones, have two arms and two legs. The question then follows: are men lacking arms and/or legs no longer men in the same way that something no longer capable of rational thought would be a man? Does having one's arm cut off invalidate one's status as a member of mankind?

 

Thank you for your replies.

 

Zigs

 

Edit: I did some more thinking, and wonder if perhaps the best answer is an additional descriptor. Because said armless person fits every other criterion for a an, would "armless person" be the descriptor, and so on and so forth? But then, once again, the question becomes where we have to stop with these descriptions and start a new concept. Is it two differences? Five? One hundred? Obviously any number is arbitrary.

Edited by TheZigs
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Included in the concept is not the same as included in the definition or essential or necessary. Rand's statement means that the concept subsumes all the particulars that fall under it and encapsulates all our knowledge of them. Thus armless people would be included in man because they satisfy the definition.

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But then, once again, the question becomes where we have to stop with these descriptions and start a new concept. Is it two differences? Five? One hundred? Obviously any number is arbitrary.

This part of your post, at least, is concerned with the problem of borderline cases, which Rand solved by arguing that essences are epistemological. You may be interested in the relevant section in OPAR, if you haven't read it already.

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