Three Kinds of Judgement

The distinction drawn here between these three kinds of judgement is a distinction based on the content of the judgement.
  • Analytic judgements have no descriptive content.
  • Synthetic judgements have just descriptive content.
  • Evaluative judgements go beyond descriptive content.
An analytic judgement is one whose subject matter is abstract or conceptual.

It tells us about the relationships between concepts, or about the characteristics of abstract entities, not about the nature of the material world.

Knowing the meaning of the concepts, and engaging in some process of logical analysis, suffices to establish the truth of an analytic judgement.

A synthetic judgement reaches out to the real world, employing concepts to make a statement about how things are as a matter of fact.

Concepts here are the vehicle for a substantive assertion which excludes certain otherwise possible configurations of the material universe.

Knowing the meaning of concepts and language will not suffice to establish anything about the real world which is their subject matter, for this empirical observation is necessary.

An evaluative judgement takes one further step.

Beyond description of how the world is, an evaluative judgment expresses an attitude toward that world. It stems from our vital interest in the world and plays a role in shaping that world.

Not all judgements which we might consider evaluative go beyond description in this way, but for our present purposes the term will be used exclusively for "properly" evaluative judgements which do have non-descriptive content.

Its worth mentioning also the general notion of performative utterences, studied at length by J.L.Austin, just by way of allowing that the above classification is not exhaustive.

up home © RBJ created 1997/7/10 modified 1997/7/12