Nineteenth-century references to the syllogism by J.S. Mill and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. reveal a distinct approach to the logic of inference in the formative years of pragmatism. In the latter may be found an element of the emergence of generals from particulars. Fallibilism in law and science reflects their social dimension as part of the communal ordering of experience. This implies a distinct approach to uncertainty, as experience yet to be integrated within a developing system of classification.The paper’s epigraph is a quotation from J. S. Mill’s System of Logic that, Mill to the contrary notwithstanding, was news to me:
Almost everyone knows Lord Mansfield’s advice to a man of practical good sense, who, being appointed governor of a colony, has to preside in its courts of justice, without previous judicial practice or legal education. The advice was to give his decision boldly, for it would probably be right, but never to venture on assigning reasons, for they would almost infallibly be wrong.