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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

There are innumerable attempts at defining ‘religion.’ The need and possibility of defining religion have been challenged, but such claims often presuppose specific definitions of religion and certain definitions of definition. The link between a definiendum (expression to be defined) and a definiens (expression that does the defining) can be conceived of in different manners. Since definiens are intended to express the meanings of the definienda, definitions are theoretically impacted by underlying theories of meaning. A crucial semantic distinction is that between meaning realism (meanings as fully determinate) and meaning antirealism (meanings as indeterminate). Different theories of meaning resonate with different types of definitions (real, lexical, and stipulative). In the study of religion, a recurrent distinction is that between functionalist and substantive definitions. The limitations of both can be overcome by combining them. Homeostatic property cluster definitions are a possible alternative.

Keywords: definition of religion, homeostatic property cluster definitions, meaning antirealism, meaning realism, types of definition

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