The existential assumptions of traditional logic

History and Philosophy of Logic 17 (1-2):141-154 (1996)
Abstract
There have been and continue to be disagreements about how to consider the traditional square of opposition and the traditional inferences of obversion, conversion, contraposition and inversion from the perspective of contemporary quantificational logic. Philosophers have made many different attempts to save traditional inferences that are invalid when they involve empty classes. I survey some of these attempts and argue that the only satisfactory way of saving all the traditional inferences is to make the existential assumption that both the subject and predicate classes and their complement classes are non-empty for all the propositions we admit. I briefly indicate the room for continued controversy over how properly to interpret Aristotle?s statements regarding these inferences, but find some plausibility in the views of Manley Thompson and A.N.Prior that Aristotle had in mind a particular arrangement of existential import unfamiliar to most contemporary logicians
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