The Scandal of Deduction and Aristotle’s Method for Discovering Syllogisms

Rhizomata 8 (2):289-311 (2021)
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(1) If a deductive argument is valid, then the conclusion is not novel. (2) If the conclusion of an argument is not novel, the argument is not useful. So, (3) if a deductive argument is valid, it is not useful. This conclusion, (3), is unacceptable. Since the argument is valid, we must reject at least one premise. So, should we reject (1) or (2)? This puzzle is usually known as the ‘scandal of deduction’. Analytic philosophers have tried to reject (1) but have assumed premise (2). I argue here that Aristotle would deny (2). Aristotle thinks that at least some deductive arguments are useful, even though they present no new conclusions. Thus, Aristotle’s view contrasts with analytic philosophers of logic, who assume that all useful deductive arguments present novel conclusions. I don’t claim that Aristotle ‘solves’ the problem: it was never posed in Aristotle’s time. Rather, I suggest that Aristotle does not face the problem because he assumes deductions can be useful, without presenting novel conclusions. Aristotle’s view of deduction tames the scandal.



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Matthew Duncombe
Nottingham University

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References found in this work

The logical basis of metaphysics.Michael Dummett - 1991 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl R. Popper - 1959 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 14 (3):383-383.

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