Sentence, Proposition, Judgment, Statement, and Fact: Speaking about the Written English Used in Logic.

In W. A. Carnielli (ed.), The Many Sides of Logic. College Publications. pp. 71-103 (2009)
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The five English words—sentence, proposition, judgment, statement, and fact—are central to coherent discussion in logic. However, each is ambiguous in that logicians use each with multiple normal meanings. Several of their meanings are vague in the sense of admitting borderline cases. In the course of displaying and describing the phenomena discussed using these words, this paper juxtaposes, distinguishes, and analyzes several senses of these and related words, focusing on a constellation of recommended senses. One of the purposes of this paper is to demonstrate that ordinary English properly used has the resources for intricate and philosophically sound investigation of rather deep issues in logic and philosophy of language. No mathematical, logical, or linguistic symbols are used. Meanings need to be identified and clarified before being expressed in symbols. We hope to establish that clarity is served by deferring the extensive use of formalized or logically perfect languages until a solid “informal” foundation has been established. Questions of “ontological status”—e.g., whether propositions or sentences, or for that matter characters, numbers, truth-values, or instants, are “real entities”, are “idealizations”, or are “theoretical constructs”—plays no role in this paper. As is suggested by the title, this paper is written to be read aloud. I hope that reading this aloud in groups will unite people in the enjoyment of the humanistic spirit of analytic philosophy.

Author's Profile

John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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