Universe of discourse

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This page belongs to resource collections on Logic and Inquiry.

C.S. Peirce attributes the term universe of discourse to De Morgan (1846).

Boole (1854) defines universe of discourse in the following manner:

In every discourse, whether of the mind conversing with its own thoughts, or of the individual in his intercourse with others, there is an assumed or expressed limit within which the subjects of its operation are confined. … Now, whatever may be the extent of the field within which all the objects of our discourse are found, that field may properly be termed the universe of discourse. (Boole 1854/1958, p. 42).


  • Boole, George (1854/1958), An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, Macmillan Publishers, 1854. Reprinted with corrections, Dover Publications, New York, NY, 1958.
  • De Morgan, Augustus (1846), Cambridge Philosophical Transactions, viii, p. 380.



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