Aristotle’s “whenever three terms”.

Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 19 (3):234-235 (2013)
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The premise-fact confusion in Aristotle’s PRIOR ANALYTICS. The premise-fact fallacy is talking about premises when the facts are what matters or talking about facts when the premises are what matters. It is not useful to put too fine a point on this pencil. In one form it is thinking that the truth-values of premises are relevant to what their consequences in fact are, or relevant to determining what their consequences are. Thus, e.g., someone commits the premise-fact fallacy if they think that a proposition has different consequences were it true than it would have if false. C. I. Lewis said that confusing logical consequence with material consequence leads to this fallacy. See Corcoran’s 1973 “Meanings of implication” [available on Academia. edu]. The premise-fact confusion occurs in a written passage that implies the premise-fact fallacy or that suggests that the writer isn’t clear about the issues involved in the premise-fact fallacy. Here are some examples. E1: If Abe is Ben and Ben swims, then it would follow that Abe swims. Comment: The truth is that from “Abe is Ben and Ben swims”, the proposition “Abe swims” follows. Whether in fact Abe is Ben and Ben swims is irrelevant to whether “Abe swims” follows from “Abe is Ben and Ben swims”. E1 suggests that maybe “Abe swims” wouldn’t follow from “Abe is Ben and Ben swims” if the latter were false. E2: The truth of “Abe is Ben and Ben swims” implies that Abe swims. E3: Indirect deduction requires assuming something false. Comment: If the premises of an indirect deduction are true the conclusion is true and thus the “reductio” assumption is false. But deduction, whether direct or indirect, does not require true premises. In fact, indirect deduction is often used to determine that the premises are not all true. Anyway, the one-page paper accompanying this abstract reports one of dozens of premise-fact errors in PRIOR ANALYTICS. In the session, people can add their own examples and comment on them. For example, is the one at 25b32 the first? What is the next premise-fact error after 25b32? Which translators or commentators discuss this?

Author's Profile

John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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