2

For example the word "religion" is defined as :

  1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods

And also:

1.1 A particular system of faith and worship

1.2 A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion

The latter definitions seem to be broader. So a 'religion' that does not worship a super human controlling power (1), does not match the first definition, but does the others (1.1 & 1.2). Also, a 'religion' that matches the definition in 1.2, may not match the definition in 1.1.

If the definitions are independent, then the meaning of the word is dependent on the authors intent and context. However, if the meanings are dependent then any of the definitions being satisfied would classify something as a religion.

For example, is it incorrect for an author to say the Buddhism is not a religion, clarifying that the definition (1) is being used? Is something a religion only if it meets i) all of the definitions, ii) one of the definitions (chosen by the author) or iii) at least 1 one of the definitions (chosen by the author).

Is it correct for an author to decide the level of restriction of a words definition?

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    Of course an author can decide. They can write, for example, "For the purpose of this essay, 'religion' is defined as devotion to specific material goods or specific forms of entertainment." – Chappo Jun 13 '16 at 0:43
  • Perhaps you should consider other words with multiple definitions that vary more dramatically and ask your questions about those. For example a bill can mean a piece of paper containing an amount due. It can also mean the mouth of a bird. It then becomes apparent that alternate word definitions are independent and that all definitions cannot apply all the time concurrently. – Jim Jun 13 '16 at 0:54
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    I expect that definition 1.2 was intended to cover things like my use of vi and not emacs for example. – Jim Jun 13 '16 at 0:56
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    Besides that, every author, every time he writes a word, decides what meaning he assigns to that word. There are radical differences and subtle differences. – Hot Licks Jun 13 '16 at 0:56
  • @Jim, it seems the oxford provides distinct definitions by enumerating the major (eg definition 1, 2, 3) vs minor distinctions of meaning by enumerating the minor as in this case (eg definition 1, 1.1, 1.2). You example is clear, but does it apply the same to mine? – ptutt Jun 13 '16 at 1:10
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There are a number of questions being asked. Here is a brief response on each.

Is it incorrect for an author to say the Buddhism is not a religion, clarifying that the definition (1) is being used?

It's always legitimate for an author to define the parameters of their argument or proposition. In this example, it's quite acceptable for an author to argue that if religion is defined as the belief in a superhuman controlling power, Buddhism isn't a religion because Buddhists don't believe in such a power. An author is entitled to select a particular definition that supports their position.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the author's proposition is correct, but merely that it's valid to use this approach. The author may want to strengthen their argument by identifying other potential definitions and explaining why these are not appropriate; or the author may simply ignore the other definitions, leaving it up to others to dispute the author's reasoning.

Is something a religion only if it meets i) all of the definitions, ii) one of the definitions (chosen by the author) or iii) at least 1 one of the definitions (chosen by the author).

Using the ODO definition you've cited, something is a religion if it meets definition 1, OR if it doesn't meet 1 but satisfies 1.1, OR if it meets neither 1 nor 1.1 but satisfies 1.2.

A religion that involves belief in a superhuman controlling power meets all three definitions; this is simply a logical reading of the definitions themselves. Something can still be a religion if it only meets one of the definitions (chosen by the author).

Is it correct for an author to decide the level of restriction of a word's definition?

Yes, an author can decide. They can write, for example, "For the purpose of this essay, 'religion' encompasses the fanatical devotion to horse racing."

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