Drawing Conclusions from Aristotelian Syllogisms

The Monist 52 (2):229-236 (1968)


Aristotle characterizes a syllogism as “discourse in which, certain things being stated, something other than what is stated follows of necessity from their being so.” This characterization of the syllogism does not require us to include as one of its constituent propositions the conclusion of a syllogism. When what are now called the premisses of a syllogism are stated, “something other than what is stated follows of necessity,” but what necessarily follows need not be a proposition in a syllogism on a par with its premisses. The view that an Aristotelian syllogism contains only its premisses as its constituent propositions I call the premiss account of the Aristotelian syllogism. The more customary accounts of the Aristotelian syllogism are the inference account, according to which the syllogism is an inference whose premisses make necessary its conclusion, and the statement account, according to which it is a conditional statement whose conjunctive antecedent makes necessary its consequent. In this paper I shall not explain my reasons for adopting the premiss account and rejecting the inference and statement accounts of the Aristotelian syllogism, since these reasons are enumerated in another place. Instead, I shall discuss a complication which is involved in the premiss account but not involved in the inference and statement accounts. My explanation of this complication must await a more careful statement of the premiss account.

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James Duerlinger
University of Iowa

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