3.1 The Importance of Definitions

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss how definitions provide theoretical direction.


The presentation of an alternative definition may appear generic, even unimportant.  A definition often washes over a reader, leaving the reader influenced, but without any obvious new insight as to the intended meaning or implications of a word.   Worse, without proper guidance, a reader may interpret a definition differently than what is intended by the author, or in the case of economics, different from how the discipline is actually employing the definition.  Definitions are, however, important, potentially very important.  A definition has the potential to provide clarity.  At their best, definitions act like a compass, providing a lost reader with several potential directions from which to proceed.


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Principles of Microeconomics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning Copyright © 2016 by Erik Dean, Justin Elardo, Mitch Green, Benjamin Wilson, Sebastian Berger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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