David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Topoi 23 (1):101-112 (2004)
In the Posterior Analytics (I 6, 75a18–27) Aristotle discusses a puzzle which endangers the possibility of inferring a non-necessary conclusion. His solution relies on the distinction between the necessity of the conclusion's being the case and the necessity of admitting the conclusion once one has admitted the premisses. The former is a factual necessity, whereas the latter is meant to be a normative or deontic necessity that is independent of the facts stated by the premisses and the conclusion. This paper maintains that Aristotle resorts to this distinction because he thinks that, as long as it is conceived as a factual relation, logical consequence cannot exist independently of the facts expressed by the premisses and the conclusion. As a corollary, the necessity of such a consequence relation always requires the necessity of these facts. Aristotle holds this factual conception of logical consequence responsible for the puzzle, since it cannot account for valid syllogisms with contingent or false premisses. The alternative conception of necessity is then introduced by him in order to make good this deficiency. The distinction between the necessity of being and the necessity of saying was revived by the Oxford logician E. W. B. Joseph, and taken over by Frank Ramsey in his seminal Truth and Probability, but has not received attention from recent interpreters of Aristotle's logic. This paper, however, argues that, in spite of its intrinsic interest, the distinction bore no significant fruit in Aristotle's logical doctrine.
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