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A reconstruction of Aristotle's modal syllogistic

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Ever since Łukasiewicz, it has been opinio communis that Aristotle's modal syllogistic is incomprehensible due to its many faults and inconsistencies, and that there is no hope of finding a single consistent formal model for it. The aim of this paper is to disprove these claims by giving such a model. My main points shall be, first, that Aristotle's syllogistic is a pure term logic that does not recognize an extra syntactic category of individual symbols besides syllogistic terms and, second, that Aristotelian modalities are to be understood as certain relations between terms as described in the theory of the predicables developed in the Topics. Semantics for modal syllogistic is to be based on Aristotelian genus-species trees. The reason that attempts at consistently reconstructing modal syllogistic have failed up to now lies not in the modal syllogistic itself, but in the inappropriate application of modern modal logic and extensional set theory to the modal syllogistic. After formalizing the underlying predicable-based semantics (Section 1) and having defined the syllogistic propositions by means of its term logical relations (Section 2), this paper will set out to demonstrate in detail that this reconstruction yields all claims on validity, invalidity and inconclusiveness that Aristotle maintains in the modal syllogistic (Section 3 and 4).
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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