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Essay on Judgement According to Mill

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Judgement According to Mill

This paper discusses Mill’s views about judgement as presented in Book I of A System of Logic. Its purpose is twofold: first, to understand the exact nature of the question Mill asks about judgement; and second, to expound his answer thereto.

I want to commence with a brief, terminological point. Mill uses the term "judgement" interchangeably with the term "proposition," both of which can be defined provisionally as the bearers of truth or falsity. In most of his discussion, however, he uses the language of "propositions;" consequently, I do the same in this paper.

The first task incumbent on the expounder of Mill’s views of propositions is to specify the question regarding propositions that Mill intends to answer. In Book I, Chapter v, § 1 of A System of Logic, Mill distinguishes two kinds of inquiry concerning the nature of propositions. The first inquiry concerns the peculiar mental state called "belief." Mill agrees there is something compelling about the prevalent philosophical conception of belief, according to which a belief consists in bringing together two ideas in the mind. According to Mill, however, this account captures only a necessary condition for belief; it is not sufficient to explain belief. Why not? We can bring together two ideas in the mind, e.g. when we imagine something, without thereby entertaining a belief. Mill agrees with Hume here, and this first inquiry concerning the nature of propositions is none other that Hume’s question about the difference between belief and the mere entertainment of a proposition. Mill does not attempt to answer Hume’s question, however.

The second kind of inquiry concerning the nature of propositions concern...


... middle of paper ...


...rthermore, an examination of Mill’s analysis of the meaning of certain propositions corroborates the interpretation expressed in this paper. Consider Mill’s analysis of "All men are mortal." The names "All men" and "mortal" connote a certain set of attributes. Herein lies the meaning of these names. When we combine these two names in the affirmative proposition "All men are mortal," the resulting meaning of the proposition is that "whatever has the attributes connoted by the subject, has also those connoted by the predicate; that the latter constantly accompany the former set" (Book I, Chapter v, § 4). The categorial relation involved in the meaning of this proposition is thus order in place. But this cannot be found in the meaning of the individual names. It is only found in the proposition that brings together the two names "All men" and "mortal" in such a manner.


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