The next fundamental notion is that of a propositional function.
Although propositional functions occur in the calculus of propositions, they are
there each defined as it occurs, so that the general notion is not required.
But in the class-calculus it is necessary to introduce the general notion explicitly. Peano does not require it, owing to his assumption that

is general for one variable, and that extensions of the same form are available for any number of variables. But we must avoid this assumption, and must therefore introduce the notion of a propositional function. We may explain (but not define) this notion as follows: `x` is an `a``ϕ``x` is a propositional function if, for every value of `x`, `ϕ``x` is a proposition, determinate when `x` is given. Thus

is a propositional function. In any proposition, however complicated, which contains no real variables, we may imagine one of the terms, not a verb or adjective, to be replaced by other terms: instead of `x` is a manSocrates is a man

we may put Plato is a man,

the number 2 is a man,

and so on^{[18]}. Thus we get successive propositions all agreeing except as to the one variable term. Putting `x` for the variable term,

expresses the type of all such propositions. A propositional function in general will be true for some values of the variable and false for others. The instances where it is true for `x` is a man*all* values of the variable, so far as they are known to me, all express implications, such as

; but I know of no à priori for asserting that no other propositional functions are true for all values of the variable.(§ 22 ¶ 1)`x` is a man implies `x` is mortal

§ 22 n. 1. Verbs and adjectives occurring as such are distinguished by the fact that, if they be taken as variable, the resulting function is only a proposition for *some* values of the variable, i.e. for such as are verbs or adjectives respectively. See Chap. IV. ↩

The Principles of Mathematics was written by Bertrand Russell, and published in in 1903. It is now available in the Public Domain.