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Disagreement and Language: A Formal Approach to Choosing Our Words

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Title: Disagreement and Language
Subtitle: A Formal Approach to Choosing Our Words
Subject Classification: Philosophy, Language and Linguistics, Society and Culture 
BIC Classification: CF, HP, JF
BISAC Classification: PHI038000, SOC022000, LAN009000
Binding: Hardback, ebook, pp.(to be confirmed)
Planned Publication date: February 2026
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-80441-713-3
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-80441-714-0


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Communication involves the use of generic categories or descriptive terms and there is often disagreement about which objects should be included in each category.  Examples of contexts include artistic genres and demographic categories such as gender and religious affiliation.  Language conventions limit the extent of disagreement but do not eliminate it. 

It is often desirable or helpful to define compromise or representative categories that respond to diversity of opinion. Learners hear different uses of generic categories and want to devise their own; people trying to debate a common course of action seek to continue their discussions rather than argue about what should be included in a category.  

The book discusses the principles, including aspects of liberalism, that can make a compromise outcome acceptable.  It applies formal techniques from social choice theory to establish when and whether it is possible to reach an acceptable outcome given a set of principles.   These techniques are applied to several formulations that apply in different contexts and for the most part establish the extent of disagreement that is consistent with reaching an acceptable compromise.  If there is too much disagreement, no acceptable compromise is possible, and one individual dominates to the exclusion of all others.


Author: Dr. John Craven is a Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London. He was previously Professor of Economics at Kent and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, UK.


This title is currently being reviewed. Please check back for further updates in due course. 

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