Judgment, Proposition, and Sentence

 
Judgment is made when we compare, contrast, or state relations between or among ideas. In this mental operation, the mind expresses the ideas’ agreement or disagreement.
Making a judgment is mentally affirming or denying one idea of another. For instance, our intellect may associate the ideas ‘this fruit’ and ‘apple’ to pronounce, This fruit is an apple.”
This is a case of a judgment uttered in a ‘proposition’. Thus, ‘proposition’ is the verbal (oral or written) statement of judgment. Usually used interchangeably with ‘statement’, proposition is a verbal expression stating truth or falsity. (Though some logicians maintain that ‘proposition’ and ‘statement’ are semantically unalike, in this book, we practically treat them as substitutable.)

Truth and falsity
A ‘term’ cannot be said to be true or false in itself because the ideas or concepts it represents are mere raw materials of knowledge. Logically, we cannot say for instance that the term ‘cat’ is ‘true’, unless we inaccurately define ‘truth’ as, say, ‘existent’. Nonetheless, when we express relation between or among ideas—in other words, when we make judgment or proposition—then we can speak of truth or falsity. “A cat is a mammal” is a judgment expressing relation between ‘cat’ and ‘mammal’ and in this case, the proposition is true.
 
‘Truth’refers to the conformity of a proposition to reality, ‘falsity’, the disagreement. If what is express in a proposition matches reality, it is true; if it does not, it is false. The statement, “Jose Rizal is a Filipino hero” is true; while the proposition, “Maria Clara was Jose Rizal’s wife is false. Thus, the barometer of truth is the correspondence of the judgment to reality.
         There are propositions, however, that are deemed true based on the confirmed truth or falsity of other statements. Their truth is warranted by the reasoning process called ‘inference’. For instance, when we accept as true that “Lolong is a crocodile”, we can also affirm that “Lolong is an animal”. Also considered a path to truth, ‘inference’ is thus concluding from the truth (or falsity) of one or more relevant propositions.

Proposition and sentence
‘Proposition’ is the expression of judgment. It may be somewhat related to ‘sentence’ but the two are not one and the same.
          One of the differences between the two is that ‘words’ compose a ‘sentence’ whereas ‘concepts’ make up a ‘proposition’. When a judgment is expressed in a sentence, the proposition is not the sentence itself, but that which is expressed or affirmed. Hence, what can be said to be either true or false is not the sentence but the proposition. Technically, proposition, not the sentence, is the bearer of truth or falsehood.
 
It is the proposition that can either be true or false because all propositions necessarily involve assertion. On the other hand, not all sentences express judgment as some kinds of sentence do not affirm or deny anything. For instance, interrogative sentence asks questions, exclamatory sentence expresses happiness, surprise, and other feelings, optative sentence conveys yearnings, wishes, and desires, and imperative sentence dispenses commands, but none of them openly utter that something is or is not. Likewise, sentences which take the structure of a greeting, proposal, prayer, and request cannot be said to be either true or false.
However, there is one kind of sentence that is closely related to ‘proposition’. Being in the form of a statement, the ‘declarative’ sentence (e.g. “Philippines is in the far east.”) asserts something and thus pretty much appears to be like a ‘proposition’. Nevertheless, the two are still not identical because proposition, technically speaking, pertains to the judgment conveyed in a declarative sentence. Proposition refers to the meaning or content of a declarative sentence that expresses something that can be true or false.

Basic types of propositions
One way to classify propositions is to brand them as either ‘categorical’, ‘hypothetical’, or ‘modal.’
Categorical propositionsare those which assert something about two terms. The statement “All computers are machines” is an example of a categorical proposition.
Hypothetical propositions, on the other hand, convey conditions. Its most common kind takes the form “If P then Q”, as in, “If you had not studied, then you would fail.”
 
These two kinds of propositions are discussed in detail in the succeeding lectures. So let’s end this lecture by focusing on modal propositions.

Modal propositions
Modal propositionsstate the manner or degree in which an idea relates to another idea. Using ‘modals’ or words that qualify a statement, modal propositions may involve the concept of necessity, possibility, or probability, or those modalities relating to knowledge, belief, and obligation.
 
Modalities may be classified as ‘alethic’, ‘temporal’, ‘deontic’, and ‘doxastic’. ‘Alethic modalities’ are modalities of truth. It includes the following:
Possible modal: e.g. “It might rain today.”
Necessary modal: e.g. “A triangle must have three sides.”
Impossible modal: e.g. “An octagon cannot have nine sides.”

‘Temporal modalities’ refer tomodalities of time. Notice that the meaning of a particular proposition (P) significantly varies with the use of these distinct temporal introductory phrases: “It was the case that P”, “It has always been that P”, “It will be that P”, “It will always be that P”.
‘Deontic modalities’ refer to duty or obligation. Notice that to say that “It is obligatory that P” is different from saying that “It is permissible that P”.
 
‘Epistemic modalities’ refer to modalities of knowledge while ‘doxastic modalities’ pertain to modalities of belief. Take note that the statement “It is known that P” has a different meaning from the statement “It is believed that P”. (© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog)

About the Contributor:
Jensen DG. Mañebog
, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a university in Metro Manila. His unique book in Logic and Critical Thinking is uniquely loaded with practical applications, compatible with online education program, and advocates e-learning and blended learning. (e-mail:
 jensenismo@gmail.com)

Tags: Philosophy, Logic, Critical Thinking, e-learning, blended learning, Judgment, Proposition, and Sentence

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