Stage 4

What IS a banana?

As mentioned in Stage 3, most students will benefit from from some additional practice problems asking them to judge  whether or not certain definitions can be considered logical.

Since the example presented so far involves a fruit, a banana, let’s first examine some Merriam-Webster definitions for other fruits.

For all five of the fruits defined below, your task to try and answer the question: Is the definition presented a logical (or Aristotelian) definition?

Similar to how your teacher evaluated the banana, you should put your judgement in writing by performing the two tests presented in Stage 3:

1st TEST: Does the definition contain any language describing how a banana may be SIMILAR TO other things? If so, identify it and explain.

2nd TEST: Does the definition contain any language describing how a banana may be DIFFERENT FROM other things? If so, identify it and explain.

Here are the 5 fruit definitions. When you are finished, you can ask your teacher for an answer key.

  1. mango: a tropical usually large ovoid or oblong fruit with a firm yellowish-red skin, hard central stone, and juicy aromatic pulp.
  2. apple: the fleshy, usually rounded red, yellow, or green edible pome fruit of a usually cultivated tree (genus Malus) of the rose family.
  3. pear: a pome fruit of a tree (genus Pyrus, especially P. communis) of the rose family that typically has a pale green or brownish skin, a firm juicy flesh, and an oblong shape in which a broad base end tapers upward to a narrow stem end.
  4. orange: a globose berry with a yellowish to reddish-orange rind and a sweet edible pulp.
  5. strawberry: the juicy edible usually red fruit of any of several low-growing temperate herbs (genus Fragaria) of the rose family that is technically an enlarged pulpy receptacle bearing numerous achenes on its surface.

Now have a look at definitions for 5 foods that people typically refer to as “vegetables.”  Are the definitions presented logical or not? When you are finished, you can ask your teacher for an answer key.

  1. leek: a biennial garden herb (Allium porrum) of the lily family that is commonly grown as an annual for its mildly pungent succulent linear leaves and especially for its thick cylindrical stalk.
  2. zucchini: a smooth usually cylindrical dark green summer squash.
  3. broccoli: either of two garden vegetable plants closely related to the cabbage.
  4. pumpkin: a fruit of any of various cultivars of herbaceous plants (Cucurbita pepo, C. maxima, C. moschata, and C. mixta synonym C. argyrosperma) of the gourd family that is typically round and orange but may be another color or shape, that has a hard usually smooth skin with shallow longitudinal grooves, and that is grown for ornamental use or for its fibrous pale flesh used especially in baking or as feed for livestock.
  5. tomato: the usually large, rounded, edible, pulpy berry of an herb (genus Solanum) of the nightshade family native to South America that is typically red but may be yellow, orange, green, or purplish in color and is eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable.

At this point, you should be feeling more confident in determining whether or not a definition of a thing can be considered logical. Remember, scientists value logical definitions, so when you are asked to define something in your science class this year, make sure you try to write a logical definition.

You are now ready to learn how scientists attempt to improve logical definitions by using a number of different elaboration practices.

Proceed to Stage 5: ELABORATION

Last updated: August 2019