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Suspension of judgment is a cognitive process and a rational state of mind in which one withholds judgments, particularly on the drawing of moral or ethical conclusions. The opposite of suspension of judgment is premature judgment, usually shortened to prejudice. Whereas prejudgment involves drawing a conclusion or making a judgment before having the information relevant to such a judgment, suspension of judgment involves waiting for all the facts before making a decision.
Suspension of judgment is a cornerstone of good research methodology. Much of the scientific method is designed to encourage the suspension of judgments until observations can be made, tested, and verified through peer review.
In socio-political situations the suspension of judgment is the cornerstone of a civil society. Rather than prejudging people based on generalizations, preconceptions, or other forms of incomplete information, we should judge individuals only when we have adequate information about that individual.
Within philosophy, the suspension of judgment is typically associated with skepticism and positivism, but it is not limited to these areas. The 17th century rationalist René Descartes, for example, used it as the cornerstone of his epistemology. In a process that he called methodological skepticism, he asserted that in order to gain a solid foundation when building one's system of knowledge and belief, one must first doubt everything. Only by eliminating preconceptions and prejudgments can one come to know what is true.
Suspension of judgment is also a term used in civil law to indicate a courts decision to nullify a civil judgment.
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