Judgement and the Epistemic Foundation of Logic

Volume 31 of the series Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science pp 85-99


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  • Arnaud DewalqueAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Liège Email author 

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A main challenge for philosophers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was to construct judgements as acts of decision or position (thesis) rather than as acts of combination or synthesis. Let us call this the thetic view. Franz Brentano (1838–1917) is usually regarded as the best supporter of this view, since he takes advantage of the Kantian-Herbartian notion of ‘position’ (Setzung) to break with the traditional definition of judgement as symplokè (Martin 2006, 64 sq.; see Brentano 2008, 335). Generally speaking I think this usual line of interpretation is quite correct, yet it could benefit from a more detailed account of the Brentano reception. What I would like to suggest is this: At stake in Brentano’s legacy is not just the rejection of the synthetic view but also the way in which the thetic dimension is itself conceived. There are, in fact, various ways of constructing judgements as thetic or positional phenomena. Brentano’s notion of ‘existential assertion’ is not the only way to do so.