Responsible mathematics and metaphors of semantics

Our arguments often get roadblocked when two people want to use the same word differently: often these are value-laden words like ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘reasonable’, or ‘trustworthy’. Sometimes, surprisingly, these contentious words seem more concrete: ‘female’, ‘insurrection’, ‘alive’. Many are in between: ‘bigoted’, ‘scientific’, ‘violence’, ‘trauma’. In ordinary life, we rarely worry about this problem because we surround ourselves with others who use ordinary words in the same way we do. But in self-reflective or argumentative moments, where we wonder what some word actually means / what could be a good justification for picking one meaning over another, we can benefit from having thought more generally about meanings.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at