On the Aristotelian Square of Opposition

In Felix Larsson (ed.), Kapten Mnemos Kolumbarium. Gothenburg, Sweden: Philosophical Communications (2005)
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A common misunderstanding is that there is something logically amiss with the classical square of opposition, and that the problem is related to Aristotle’s and medieval philosophers’ rejection of empty terms. But [Parsons 2004] convincingly shows that most of these philosophers did not in fact reject empty terms, and that, when properly understood, there are no logical problems with the classical square. Instead, the classical square, compared to its modern version, raises the issue of the existential import of words like all; a semantic issue. I argue that the modern square is more interesting than Parsons allows, because it presents, in contrast with the classical square, notions of negation that are ubiquitous in natural languages. This is an indirect logical argument against interpreting all with existential import. I also discuss some linguistic matters bearing on the latter issue.



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Dag Westerståhl
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

Equivalential Structures for Binary and Ternary Syllogistics.Selçuk Topal - 2018 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 27 (1):79-93.

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References found in this work

The traditional square of opposition.Terence Parsons - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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