In many cases, definitions report on how people use a term: if people use some words to express an idea, they are defining that idea, at least in one way (since terms sometimes have multiple definitions).
So then how do you find out how people define a word? You can do a survey! So that's what I did:
So, at least many people are willing to define "murder" as wrongful killing.A #survey about the concept "murder":— Nathan Nobis (@NathanNobis) May 27, 2020
You and someone else are on a desert island. There are no laws or police or courts or anything like that. One day you kill that person, just because you don't like them.
Did you *murder* them? #definitions #meaning #use
If they are mistaken, how exactly could that be shown, if it could?
First, you could read an encyclopedia entry on definitions also. And you could check our discussion of attempts to define, say, human embryos as "babies" or "children", or watch this video on definitions below.
Definitions define a topic, of course, and definitions often dictate what we need to argue about and what we can let go, sometimes for the sake of argument. So the more you know about definitions, the better you can engage the issues that define the topic. If you'd like more sources on how to evaluate definitions, especially for terms related to ethical issues, let me know!