Aristotle on Modality and Predicative Necessity

International Philosophical Quarterly 53 (1):5-21 (2013)
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Abstract

Many logicians have tried to formalize a modal logic from the Prior Analytics, but the general view is that Aristotle has failed to offer a consistent modal logic there. This paper explains that Aristotle is not interested in modal logic as such. Modalities for him pertain to the relations of predication, without challenging the assertoric system of deductions simpliciter. Thus, demonstrations or dialectical deductions have modal predicates and yet are still deductions simpliciter. It is a matter of distinguishing inferential necessity that applies to every deduction from the modal predicates in the two premises and conclusion. The modality of demonstrations can be either necessary or possible. The necessity is predicative, i.e., independent of inferential necessity. While the possible demonstration challenges the predicative necessity of the necessary demonstration, it preserves the inferential necessity of the deduction simpliciter.

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Jean-Louis Hudry
Université de Neuchâtel

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