Judgement is a mental act, and one may wonder how such an ability may be taught, given its apparent ‘inner’ quality. Geach’s (1957) account of mental acts may help. This suggests that they are analogical extensions of verbal acts. They get their sense from the prior public practice of asserting, questioning, commanding, and so on. Geach’s account has a lot in common with Vygotsky’s (1962) description of the genesis of inner thought. According to Geach’s account, an act of judgement is an analogical extension of the verbal act of assertion. Geach offers an account of concepts as abilities exercised in acts of
assertion (and other linguistic acts) and, by extension, in acts of judgement (and other mental acts) which are themselves construed as abilities to follow the rules governing the use of concept-words in concrete practical situations. Geach’s account of concept formation is thus one of learning, through practice and different forms of social encounter, the application of concept-words, at first in public and later in non-discursive acts of judgement and so on. This account of the social genesis of judgement is somewhat at odds with other influential theories such as that of Piaget, which suppose that the inner mental life is prior to discursive mental acts. Cognitivist thinkers such as Chomsky also suppose that some form of judgement, albeit of a non-conscious variety, underpins our ability to make ordinary judgements. On the socially based accounts of Geach and Vygotsky, an account
of learning can take shape which takes seriously the social nature of human beings.