Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART II: On the Noetic Judgment and the Proposition - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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PART II: On the Noetic Judgment and the Proposition - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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On the Noetic Judgment and the Proposition
A judgment is “an action of the mind by which it gives a verdict on two ideas in comparison with each other.” That is, a verdict is given that either the ideas represent the same object, or a certain relation or connection exists between their objects.1
A noetic judgment is “when a verdict is given about ideas which are being directly compared with each other.”
A dianoetic judgment is “a verdict of the mind about two ideas, by means of comparison of both with a third.”2
A proposition is “a statement which expresses a noetic judgment.” There are three parts to it: subject, predicate, and copula.
The subject is “that about which something is affirmed or denied.” The predicate is “that which is affirmed or denied.” The copula is the logical verb (verbum), is or is-not.
N.B. Subjects and predicates are distinguished not by their position but by the sequence of speech. These three parts are always present, either explicitly or suppressed and implied: for example, curro [“I-run”] = ego sum currens [“I am running”].
In respect of their internal form or quality, propositions, like judgments, are either affimative or negative.3
In respect of their content, propositions are either true or false. Every [proposition] is either true or false; no [proposition] is both true and false; and there are no [propositions] which change from true to false, if we look at the judgment itself and not at the words. Those which seem to be both true and false are double or denote two judgments. Those which seem to change are likewise double; this is obvious from the nature of the word, which is “a word which implies time.” Hence, when the same words are uttered at different times, they sometimes give rise to quite different propositions.
Logical truth is “the agreement (convenientia) of the signs with the things signified.” Moral truth is “the agreement of the signs with the sense of the mind”; it belongs to the ethical forum.
With regard to quantity, propositions are universal, particular, singular, or indefinite.
1. A universal proposition is “when the subject is a universal term in its whole extension,” or is distributed.
2. A particular proposition is one “whose common subject is restricted to a part of its extension,” or is not distributed.
The marks of distribution or universality are all, no, each, etc. Notes of particularity are someone, a certain, not every, etc.
3. A singular proposition is one “whose subject is singular or individual,” i.e., [a subject] which, not having a divisible extension, is understood of the whole; the same rules apply to singulars as to universals.
4. An indefinite proposition is “when a common subject is not modified by any mark of quantity.” In the sense of the speaker, however, it is always either universal or particular. For example, men are animals is universal; men are learned is particular; it depends whether the content is necessary or contingent.
We need only look at two of these kinds, namely universal and particular, because the others come under the same rules.
From the different combinations of quality and quantity, four classes of propositions arise, which are indicated by well-known symbols.
In respect of substance, propositions are either categorical or hypothetical. A categorical [proposition] “indicates something absolutely.” A hypothetical proposition “indicates something subject to a condition.”
The [following] divisions show the responses to the most frequent questions about propositions.
What [proposition]? Categorical or hypothetical. What sort of [proposition]? Negative or affirmative. What quantity of [proposition]? Universal, particular, indefinite, singular.
Axioms about the quantity of terms:
1. “In every affirmative proposition the predicate is taken particularly,” and it is not also required that it be true.
2. “In a negative proposition the predicate is taken universally” or is distributed, for a negation is understood to be false if any part of the predicate may be truly affirmed of the subject.
3. The quantity of subjects is understood from the signs prefixed [to them]. Hence in A, the subject is universal, and the predicate is particular. In E, both are universal. In I, both are particular. In O, the subject is particular, and the predicate is universal.
Only those propositions are said to be universal in which the subject is distributed, and a predicate is affirmed or denied of the individual things which are covered by the common word. This is not the case when the predicate is [made up] of several [things] collectively: thus, All men are mortal is universal, but not the following: All men form one state; all the apostles were twelve.
Propositions about kinds of individuals are in a certain sense universal; e.g., Every animal was in Noah’s ark, or, the Gospel has been preached to men of all nations.
Here it is said that certain individuals of each kind were in the ark or have heard the Gospel, but these things are not predicated separately of every individual or of each individual in the kinds.
These are the axioms about universals:
1. “Whatever is affirmed of a distributed subject (that is, [of a subject] universally taken) may be affirmed of all the inferiors which are contained in its extension.”
2. “Whatever is denied of a distributed subject can equally be denied of all its inferiors.” These two in combination are the dictum de omni et nullo; on this depend both subalternation and the force of the syllogism, which we shall discuss later.5
Some propositions are simple, others complex; simple [propositions] “denote one single judgment”; complex [propositions] “denote more than one judgment.”
Among complex propositions, the modal propositions are preeminent [which are] “when something is both predicated and the mode of its connection with the subject is made clear.” There are four modes: the necessary, the impossible, the possible, and the contingent.6 But generally modal [propositions] are simple [propositions], or signify a single judgment of a speaker. For they are ambiguous. Sometimes they merely affirm or deny the statement itself more emphatically, as in saying, “God most certainly exists” or “Certainly no man is immortal.” Sometimes the proposition itself, which is called the statement, is the subject, and the mode is predicated of it, as in saying, “the Divine existence is necessary,” or “God is, is a necessary proposition”; and similarly with the other modals.
In the same way it is shown that the four kinds [of modal propositions], which might appear from their names to be complex, are simple, namely: (1) conditional [propositions]; (2) disjunctive [propositions]; (3) negative copulative [propositions]; and (4) relative [propositions].
In a conditional or hypothetical [proposition] there are two parts, the antecedent and the consequent: for example, if God exists, the world is governed by providence. Neither of these is asserted; it is merely asserted that they are connected. Hence this [proposition] also is equally true: If there were no God, there would be no providence.
In disjunctive [propositions] the whole subject is said to be included in two connected predicates; for example, it is either day or night means the same as all time is included in daytime and nighttime.7
In negative copulative [propositions] it is denied that both the predicates are compatible with the subject at the same time: it is not both day and night; i.e., no time is both daytime and nighttime.
In relative [propositions] the terms may be complex, but the judgment is single, namely, that the reasons (rationes) are equal or unequal.
The true complex propositions therefore are (1) copulative, (2) causal, (3) adversative, (4) exclusive, (5) inceptive, and (6) desitive;8 and they are easy to learn.
Some propositions or judgments are abstract, “in which from the comparison of ideas itself, there is seen or shown to be a relationship apart from any consideration of time”; hence they are said to be eternal and unalterable truths.
Other propositions are absolute; they assert that a thing is, was or will be at a certain time, or ascribe a common accident to it as existing at a certain time.
Abstract affirmative propositions, in which ideas are not only viewed in themselves but are related to objects, are all hypothetical and merely predicate attributes on the hypothesis that the thing exists. An absolute conclusion can only be deduced from absolute premisses, and abstract conclusions from abstract [premisses].
Other propositions are [self-]evident; here, by a power natural to the mind, “a certain relation or connection is perceived among the terms in themselves.” Nor is there any other criterion of truth.9 Other [propositions] are probable, when connection of that kind is not certain. And others are manifestly false.
The relative states (affectiones) of propositions are subalternation, conversion, and opposition.
1. Subalternation is “the deduction of a particular proposition from a universal [proposition]”; the former is called the subalternating [proposition], the latter the subalternated; for example, Every man is an animal, therefore, Some man is an animal. This is clear from the dictum de omni. “But from a particular to a universal [proposition] there is no inference.”
2. Conversion is “the transposition of the subject into the place of the predicate.” The given proposition is called the convertend, and the derived proposition the converse. And since every relation, likeness, or equality is mutual, the consequence will be valid provided that the same terms are used in the converse with the same extension and with the same temporal relation (ratio).
Conversion is threefold. It is either (i) simpliciter, “when the same quantity of propositions is kept”: no A is B and no B is A; or (ii) it is per accidens, “when the convertend is universal and the converse is particular”: as in, all A is B, some B is A; or (iii) by contraposition, “when the negations [of the terms] are put in the place of the terms and are transposed”: as in, Every man is an animal, therefore, that which is not-animal is not-man.10
Universal negative and particular affirmative [propositions] are converted simpliciter. Universal affirmative [propositions], as well as [universal] negative [propositions], may be converted per accidens; and it is only in this way that [universal] affirmative [propositions] can [be converted], because their predicates are particular.
Universal affirmative [propositions] and particular negative [propositions] [can be converted] by contraposition: Some man is not European, therefore, some not-European is not a not-man, i.e., is a man.
The value of these [conversions] lies in proving the validity of syllogisms, and in perfecting them.
3. Opposition of propositions is said to be complex. Opposed propositions are “two propositions which affirm and deny the same predicate about the same subject, in accordance with the same thing, in the same manner, at the same time.”
There are three kinds of opposed [propositions], namely, contradictory, contrary, and subcontrary. Subaltern [propositions] do not conflict.
Contradictory [propositions] are those “of which one is universal, the other particular, one is affirmative, the other negative”; or which are opposed in quantity and quality, as, A and O, E and I.
Contrary [propositions] are “two universal [propositions], one affirmative, the other negative,” which conflict in quality, not in quantity, like A and E.
Subcontrary [propositions] are “two particular [propositions], one affirmative, the other negative”; they too are in conflict by quality alone, like I and O. Since they are often both true at the same time, namely when they have contingent content, they are not truly opposed.
The rules of opposition are: (1) “of contradictories, one is always true, the other false”; this is the major opposition. (2) “Contraries are never at the same time true, but are sometimes both false at the same time,” i.e., with contingent content. (3) “Subcontrary [propositions] are never false at the same time.” If it is false that some man is learned, it will not be false that some man is not learned, since the contradictory of the former is true.12
[1 ]Compare Carmichael, “A Short Introduction to Logic,” in Natural Rights, p. 298, who had employed the same language in his definition of judgment.
[2 ]The distinction between noetic and dianoetic judgments was made by Loudon, “Compendium Logicae,” p. 51. Carmichael, “Short Introduction,” p. 304, made a similar distinction between immediate judgment, in which two ideas are compared, and mediate judgment, which requires the intervention of a third idea.
[3 ]In this chapter, Hutcheson followed Loudon’s classification of noetic judgments or propositions, set out in “Compendium Logicae.” He did not reiterate Loudon’s illustrations, which were designed to reinforce Presbyterian orthodoxy: for instance, as an example of an affirmative proposition, “a sincerely pious life leads to beatitude”; of a negative proposition, “a disgraceful life does not lead to beatitude” (pp. 18-19).
[4 ]The symbols (A, E, I, O) employed to denote the four classes of propositions are described by James Clow, “A System of Logic,” as “a Distich invented by the School-men,” p. 140. See also W. and M. Kneale, The Development of Logic, p. 56: “the vowels by which the four types have been distinguished since the Middle Ages [formed] no part of Aristotle’s work.” These symbols were widely used by logicians in the early modern period to illustrate the four figures of the syllogism. See Part III, chap. 5, p. 37.
[5 ]The dictum de omni et nullo (the saying concerning all and none) derives via scholastic logicians from Aristotle, “The Prior Analytics,” I, 1, 7, analyzed in Organon, II, p. 649. It was used by Hutcheson to explain subalternation, II, 7, p. 29, and the reduction of syllogisms, III, 6, p. 41.
[6 ]See Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium, II, 8, p. 103 ff.
[7 ]See Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium, II, 10, pp. 112-16; Arnauld, The Art of Thinking, II, 9, pp. 128-34.
[8 ]These terms are explained in Arnauld, The Art of Thinking, II, 10, pp. 134-42: “Sentences stating that something commences are inceptives; those stating that something ceases are desistives.”
[9 ]Carmichael, “A Short Introduction to Logic,” chap. 2, sec. 7, in Natural Rights, pp. 302-3, provides a more ample discussion of abstract, absolute hypothetical, and intuitive propositions.
[10 ]On subalternation and conversion of propositions, see Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium, II, 7, pp. 100-103, and Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium, I, 2, pp. 10-12.
[11 ]The Latin is a mnemonic in two hexameter verses: “FEc1 simpliciter convertitur, Ev A per accid./Ast O per contra; sic fit conversio tota.” See Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium, I, 2, 5, p. 12, for a slightly modified form of these verses.
[12 ]On contradictory, contrary, and subcontrary propositions, see Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium, I, 15, pp. 51-54, and Arnauld, The Art of Thinking, II, 4, pp. 113-14.