Dragon1 Standard: Definitions of the Concepts

Dragon1 is an open EA Method and has a glossary of over 350 terms (work in progress).

Dragon1 defines a definition as an exact statement of the nature or the meaning of a term (that is a word, phrase, or another set of symbols).

Every term in the glossary is defined carefully and tested or experimented with thoroughly. So it cannot be easily falsified and therefore the term has value.

In science, like physics, biology, and information science, we use definitions to identify the referents of a concept. And with that, we can measure the outcomes of experiments and make predictions about how things will work.

For instance, if we define Waste correctly, then the concept of Zero Waste and its principles (way of working) can be introduced much more effectively in an organization. The same goes for terms like Process, Application, and many more terms in EA. If we look at organizations, many organizations run into the problem that they cannot distinguish between business function, business processes, and business capabilities. Or they cannot distinguish between information systems, applications, modules, and components. So we need much better definitions in EA.

A definition that does not include the right referents and excludes the wrong referents cannot be used effectively to measure things or predicted occurrences.

A definition must never be too broad or too narrow to be usable.

Definition for your Definitions

Suppose you have the following items: apples, oranges, apricots, cherries, lemons, limes, coconuts, pineapples, grapefruits, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, and pomegranates.

And you claim/define this: Fruit is a sweet and fleshy product of a tree or a plant and can be eaten as food.

But then someone says: berries and melons don't grow on trees or plants but on bushes. So your claim is false. Your definition is too narrow.

Suppose you say: Fruit is a sweet product and can be eaten as food.

But then someone comes along and says, chocolate is sweet and can be eaten as food. So your claim again is false. Your definition is too broad.

Rules for Definitions

Dragon1 uses the following rules for definitions:

  1. Make sure that all the words you use are predefined
  2. Make sure that your definition qualifies and quantifies
  3. Make sure there are no counterexamples
  4. Make sure you don't introduce circular reasoning

Dragon1 aims to remove pseudo-science and nonsense definitions for terms from the field of Enterprise Architecture.

We invite everyone to use these rules and try to falsify any terms defined in Dragon1. If you succeed, you will help everyone one step further to better understand how the world works.

Functions of Definitions

Concepts (ideas, approaches, abstractions of implementations) are what we experience in the world. A concept may have many different implementations, some things are obvious to be of the same concept, and other things are not. Definitions describe what exactly makes something to be a certain concept. Definitions help us to classify the knowledge we have.

Below are some examples of definitions that show how important it is to know the differences between concepts through definitions:

  • Evolution is changing the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.
  • Natural selection is a mechanism where the members of a population best suited to their environment have the best chance of surviving to pass on their genes.
  • In science, a theory means a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that sits above laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
  • So when we say evolution is a theory, we don't mean that evolution is a hunch, but evolution is a fact.
  • Evolution and natural selection are two different things, but commonly mistaken. Definitions help us to distinguish between the terms.
  • A species is a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.
  • Kinds are not defined in biology. A kind is a group of people or things having similar characteristics.
  • In biology we do use the word species and do not use the word kinds, as it is not defined.

Definitions make clear what is included in a concept or excluded from a concept. For instance, an animal is a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and a nervous system, and can respond rapidly to stimuli but is not able to self-reflect. So humans are not animals, although we have a common ancestor.

Definitions provide relationships of concepts. Every definition uses words. These words show relationships with other words and definitions. If children learn that only humans can talk and self-reflect, then they will not expect any more animals to talk back. For instance, snakes and donkeys are animals and not humans, so they cannot talk or self-reflect.

Types of Definitions

Definitions come in different flavors. Below you see commonly recognized types of definitions.

  1. Nominal definition - a common explanation of the meaning of a term
  2. Dictionary definition - a common explanation of the meaning of a term in one sense
  3. Stipulatieve definition - a new imparted meaning to an already defined term
  4. Descriptive definition - a new explanation that spells out the meaning of a term, aiming to be adequate to existing usage
  5. Explicative definition - a new explanation that is offered as an absolute improvement of an existing, imperfect concept
  6. Ostensive definition - a new explanation of the meaning of a term based on context and experience

The Dragon1 term definitions in the glossary are descriptive definitions.

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