The difference between concepts and propositions

Phillip asked:

What is the difference between a concept and a proposition and in what ways do they differ in their applications in philosophy?

Answer by Nathan Sinclair

Concepts and Propositions are related to each other in something like the way railway carriages are related to trains. A train is a sequence of carriages joined by connectors, a proposition is a combination of concepts joined by logical connections. The ways concepts can be combined are more complex than the ways carriages can be connected, but still concepts are parts of propositions. Propositions are true or false, whereas concepts are true of, or false of (other things).

Whether there are such things as concepts or propositions is disputed by philosophers. But it is agreed that if there are concepts then there are propositions.

The last truly dominant account of philosophy and reason took the existence of concepts to be fundamental. According to that view, philosophy was conceptual analysis, the objective of which was to produce, for any statement, another statement which expressed the same proposition, but which displayed the conceptual structure of that proposition more clearly and explicitly.


Answer by Helier Robinson

A concept is a combination of a word, spoken or written, and an idea which is its meaning. A proposition is a combination of ideas. And a statement is a combination of concepts which expresses those ideas. For example, the statement ‘All equilateral triangles are equiangular’ states the proposition that relates the ideas in the concepts of triangle, equilateral, and equiangular.


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