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Friday, 5 August 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Syllogism

Syllogism: noun - a form of reasoning where a conclusion is deduced from two propositions referred to as the premises, which include a common or middle term absent from the conclusion (e.g. All Ds are Es, all Es are Gs, therefore all Ds are Gs); a type or method of reasoning or something regarded as such, especially one that is specious or subtle; an artifice, a trick, often jocular or ironic.

In Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, he defines syllogism as ‘a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so.’

Major premise: All women are beautiful.
Minor premise: All mothers are women.
Conclusion: All mothers are beautiful.

Each of the three distinct terms represents a category. In the above example, ‘women’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘mothers’; ‘beautiful’ is the major term, ‘mothers’ the minor term. The premises also have one term in common with each other, which is known as the middle term; in this example, ‘women’. Both of the premises are universal, as is the conclusion.

Pic: Honey bee on garden flowers.
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