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The content of a declarative sentence employed in its typical use; a proposition.

statement constant

A symbol (usually uppercase letters such as   A, B, C, etc.) used to represent a specific simple statement in the propositional calculus.

statement form

In the propositional calculus, a string of symbols including only statement variables, and connectives (along with parenthetical punctuation) such that the substitution of a statement for each of its variables would result in a well-formed compound statement.

statement variable

A symbol (usually lowercase letters such as   p, q, r, s, etc.) used to represent any statement whatsoever in the propositional calculus.

Stevenson, Charles Leslie (1908-1979)

American philosopher. Stevenson's "The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms" (1937), "Persuasive Definitions" (1938), and Ethics and Language (1944) developed emotivism as a meta-ethical theory in which moral judgments invariably express and encourage human feelings of characteristic sorts. His papers are collected in Facts and Values (1963).

Recommended Reading: Stephen Satris, Ethical Emotivism (Martinus Nijhoff, 1987).

Also see SEP.

Stewart, Dugald (1753-1828)

Scottish philosopher whose Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792) helped to perpetuate Reid's philosophy of common sense realism. Stewart was an influential teacher whose students included Benjamin Constant, James Mill, and Walter Scott.

Recommended Reading: Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, ed. by William Hamilton (Thoemmes, 1997) and Dugald Stewart, Biographical Memoir of Adam Smith (Kelley, 1993).

Also see EB.

stipulative definition

The arbitrary assignment of meaning to a term not previously in use. Although it may be relatively inconvenient or useless, such a definition can never be mistaken or incorrect.


School of philosophy organized at Athens in the third century B.C.E. by Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus. The stoics provided a unified account of the world that comprised formal logic, materialistic physics, and naturalistic ethics. Later Roman stoics, including Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, emphasized more exclusively the development of recommendations for living in harmony with a natural world over which one has no direct control.

Recommended Reading: Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, ed. by Johannes ab Arnim (Irvington, 1986); Handbook of Epictetus, tr. by Nicholas P. White (Hackett, 1983); A. A. Long, Stoic Studies (California, 2001); Brad Inwood, Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism (Oxford, 1987); Marcia L. Colish, The Stoic Tradition from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages: Stoicism in Classical Latin Literature (Brill, 1990); and Lawrence C. Becker, A New Stoicism (Princeton, 1999).

Also see IEP, SEP, EB, and ISM.

Strawson, Peter F. (1919- )

British philosopher who applies the methods of analytic philosophy to traditional philosophical problems. Strawson criticized Russell's theory of descriptions in "On Referring" (1950) and developed the notion of descriptive (as opposed to revisionary) metaphysics in reference to problem of reidentification of particulars in Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (1959). His The Bounds of Sense (1966) is an extended commentary on the critical philosophy of Kant.

Recommended Reading: P. F. Strawson, Entity and Identity: And Other Essays (Oxford, 2000); P. F. Strawson, Analysis and Metaphysics: An Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford, 1992); and The Philosophy of P. F. Strawson, ed. by Lewis Edwin Hahn and Paul Arthur Schilpp (Open Court, 1998).

Also see SEP, EB, and ELC.


Method of interpreting social phenomena in the context of a system of signs whose significance lies solely in the interrelationships among them. Initiated in the linguistics of Saussure and Chomsky, structuralism was applied to other disciplines by Lévi-Strauss, Piaget, Althusser, Lacan, Barthes, Foucault, and Eco. Most structuralists share a conviction that individual human beings function solely as elements of the (often hidden) social networks to which they belong.

Recommended Reading: Edith Kurzweil, The Age of Structuralism: From Levi-Strauss to Foucault (Transaction, 1996); Peter Caws, Structuralism: A Philosophy for the Human Sciences (Prometheus, 1997); Structuralism and Since: From Levi Strauss to Derrida, ed. by John Sturrock (Oxford, 1981); and Donald D. Palmer, Structuralism and Poststructuralism for Beginners (Writers & Readers, 2001).

Also see SEP and EB.

Suárez, Francisco (1548-1617)

Spanish philosopher and theologian whose rejection of Aristotelian authority in the Disputationes Metaphysicae (Metaphysical Disputations) (1597) became a significant component of much Renaissance thinking. In De legibus ac Deo legislatore (On Law) (1612) Suárez qualified the natural law theory of Aquinas, defending instead a voluntaristic notion of the effect of legislative edicts.

Recommended Reading: Jorge J. Gracia, Suarez on Individuation (Marquette, 1982).

Also see EB.


In the traditional square of opposition, the relationship between a universal propositioin and its corresponding particular proposition. Thus, an I is the subaltern of its A proposition, and an O is the subaltern of its E proposition. Thus, for example:

Some larks are birds is subaltern to All larks are birds, and

Some robins are not fish is subaltern to No robins are fish.

Subalternation is a reliable pattern of inference only on the assumption of existential import for universal propositions.


A pair of categorical propositions which (provided that we assume existential import) cannot both be false, although both could be true. In the traditional square of opposition, an I proposition and its corresponding O are subcontraries. Thus, for example:

Some business leaders are women and Some business leaders are not women

are subcontraries.


That which depends upon the personal or individual, especially where—in contrast with the objective—it is supposed to be an arbitrary expression of private taste.

Recommended Reading: Nick Mansfield, Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway (NYU, 2001); Roger Frie, Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Modern Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997); and Sonia Kruks, Retrieving Experience: Subjectivity and Recognition in Feminist Politics (Cornell, 2001).

Also see IEP and ISM.


The aesthetic feeling aroused by experiences too overwhelming in scale to be appreciated as beautiful by the senses. The awe produced by standing on the brink of the Grand Canyon or the terror induced by witnessing a hurricane are properly said to be sublime.

Recommended Reading: Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, ed. by John T. Goldthwait (California, 1991); Paul Crowther, The Kantian Sublime: From Morality to Art (Oxford, 1991); and The Sublime Reader: A Reader in British Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Theory, ed. by Andrew Ashfield and Peter De Bolla (Cambridge, 1996).

Also see IEP, EB, and Peter Suber.

sub specie aeternitatis

Latin for "under the aspect of eternity;" hence, from Spinoza onwards, an honorific expression describing what is universally and eternally true, without any reference to or dependance upon the merely temporal portions of reality.

substance {Gk. ουσια [ousia]; Lat. substantia}

What a thing is made of; hence, the underlying being that supports, exists independently of, and persists through time despite changes in, its accidental features. Aristotle identified substance—both primary and secondary—as the most fundamental of the ten categories of being. According to Spinoza, there can be no more than one truly independent being in the universe.

Recommended Reading: Mary Louise Gill, Aristotle on Substance (Princeton, 1991); Charlotte Witt, Substance and Essence in Aristotle (Cornell, 1994); R. S. Woolhouse, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics (Routledge, 1993); Jeffrey Edwards, Substance, Force, and the Possibility of Knowledge: On Kant's Philosophy of Material Nature (California, 2000); Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkranz, Substance: Its Nature and Existence (Routledge, 1996); Anthony Quinton, The Nature of Things (Routledge, 1993); and David Wiggins, Sameness and Substance Renewed (Cambridge, 2001).

Also see SEP.


A statement or argument that results from a consistent substitution of constants for variables in a statement form or argument form of the propositional calculus or quantification theory.

sufficient condition

What logically or causally secures the occurrence of something else; see necessary / sufficient. Thus, Leibniz supposed that there must always be a sufficient reason for the way things are.

sui generis

Latin for "of its own kind;" hence, whatever is absolutely unique or distinctive about something.

summum bonum

Latin phrase meaning "highest good." Hence, that which is intrinsically valuable, the ultimate goal or end of human life generally.


Above and beyond the call of duty. Although agents are not obliged by the dictates of ordinary morality to perform supererogatory acts—extraordinary feats of heroism or extreme deeds of self-sacrifice, for example—they may be commended for doing so. Normative theories that demand the performance of the best possible action in every circumstance render supererogation impossible by identifying the permissible with the obligatory.

Recommended Reading: Gregory Mellema, Beyond the Call of Duty: Supererogation, Obligation, and Offence (SUNY, 1991).

Also see SEP, Eugene V. Torisky, and IEP.


Belonging to or characteristic of something only in virtue of its having other features. Although a supervenient property cannot be defined in terms of, or reduced to, the properties on which it supervenes, nothing possess (or can possess) those properties without also having it. In this sense, Hare supposed that moral properties are supervenient with respect to straightforward descriptions of human conduct, and Davidson proposes that mental events supervene on physical events.

Recommended Reading: R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals (Clarendon, 1991); Supervenience, ed. by Jaegwon Kim (Ashgate, 2001); Gabriel M. A. Segal, A Slim Book About Narrow Content (MIT, 2000); Supervenience: New Essays, ed. by Elias E. Savellos and Umit D. Yalcin (Cambridge, 1995); Jaegwon Kim, Supervenience and Mind: Selected Philosophical Essays (Cambridge, 1993); and Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis, ed. by Gerhard Preyer and Frank Siebelt (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).

Also see DPM, SEP, Robert G. Lantin, EB, and Neil Campbell.


An important variety of deductive argument in which a conclusion follows from two or more premises; especially the categorical syllogism.

Recommended Reading: Aristotle, Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, tr. by Hugh Tredennick (Harvard, 1938); Jan Lukasiewicz, Aristotle's Syllogistic from the Standpoint of Modern Formal Logic (Clarendon, 1957); The New Syllogistic, ed. by George Englebretsen (Peter Lang, 1987); and Bruce E. R. Thompson, An Introduction to the Syllogism and the Logic of Proportional Quantifiers (Peter Lang, 1993).

Also see SEP and EB.

symbolic logic

The systematic representation of logic. See propositional calculus and quantification theory.

Recommended Reading: P. H. Nidditch, The Development of Mathematical Logic (St. Augustine, 1998); Graeme Forbes, Modern Logic: A Text in Elementary Symbolic Logic (Oxford, 1994); Irving M. Copi, Symbolic Logic (Prentice Hall, 1979); Willard V. O. Quine, Mathematical Logic (Harvard, 1981); and Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Arthur Russell, Principia Mathematica to *56 (Cambridge, 1997).

Also see EB.

symbols, logical

Throughout this site, references to connectives of the propositional calculus and the quantifiers of quantification theory employ the following logical symbols:

  ~negation (x)universal quantifier
  • conjunction(∃x)existential quantifier
  ⊃material implication
  ≡     material equivalence


Not included among the categories of Aristotle and therefore incapable of serving as a categorical term. Hence, any linguistic expression that does not refer to anything else. Thus, "if," "while," and "and," are all syncategorematic terms.


Immediate, intuitive apprehension of the fundamental principles of morality. For such medieval ethicists as Peter Lombard and Aquinas, synderesis, unlike mere conscience, is both infallible and general.

Recommended Reading: Ralph M. McInerny, Ethica Thomistica: The Moral Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (Catholic U. of Am., 1997) and Daniel Westberg, Right Practical Reason: Aristotle, Action, and Prudence in Aquinas (Clarendon, 1994).

Also see SEP.


Having exactly the same meaning in more than one use; see homonymous / synonymous / paronymous. Although many since Aristotle have supposed this to be essential for effective communication, Quine has shown that the indeterminacy of translation renders genuine synonymy difficult to secure.


Study of the grammatical relationships among signs, independently of their interpretation or meaning, which is the subject of semantics.

Recommended Reading: Rudolf Carnap, Philosophy and Logical Syntax (Thoemmes, 1997); Noam Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (MIT, 1965); and Robin Cooper, Quantification and Syntactic Theory (Reidel, 1983).


The combination or reconciliation of opposed notions; see thesis / antithesis / synthesis.


Affirming a genuine connection between otherwise independent notions; see analytic / synthetic.


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