Universe of discourse
set of entities which discourse talks about and which nouns and noun phrases refer to, or set of entities over which universal and existential quantifiers range
The term is also used informally.
- "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. The most unfettered discourse is that in which the words we use are understood in the widest possible application, and for them the limits of discourse are co-extensive with those of the universe itself. But more usually we confine ourselves to a less spacious field. Sometimes, in discoursing of men we imply (without expressing the limitation) that it is of men only under certain circumstances and conditions that we speak, as of civilized men, or of men in the vigour of life, or of men under some other condition or relation. 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. Furthermore, this universe of discourse is in the strictest sense the ultimate subject of the discourse".
- George Boole. 1854/2003. The Laws of Thought, facsimile of 1854 edition, with an introduction by J. Corcoran. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.