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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 81, Issue 4, Fall 2007

Edward M. Engelmann
Pages 535-552

Aristotle’s Syllogystic, Modern Deductive Logic, and Scientific Demonstration

This article investigates the nature of Aristotelian syllogistics and shows that the categorical syllogism is fundamentally about showing the connection, in the premises of the syllogism, between the major and minor terms as stated in the conclusion. It discusses how this is important for the use of the syllogism in scientific demonstration. The article then examines modern deductive logic with an eye to they way in which it contrasts with Aristotelian syllogistics. It shows how modern logic is about making necessary connections between each proposition by means of external or second order rules. In the syllogism, on the other hand, the necessity between the premises as a whole unit and the conclusion is based on the internal middle term. The article concludes with a discussion of Günther Patzig’s claim that Aristotelian syllogisms are best thought of as tautological propositions. If this were the case, then the differences asserted to exist between syllogistic and modern logic would not hold. However, it is shown that Patzig’s assimilation of syllogistics to modern deductive logic is illegitimate.

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