A Logician's Fairy Tale

1IIiiiiil. .1IiiiII@

H. L. A. Hart

The Philosophical Review, Vol. 60, No.2. (Apr., 1951), pp. 198-212.
Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0031-8108%28195104%2960%3A2%3CI98%3AALFT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-7

The Philosophical Review is currently published by Cornell University.

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR' s Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/journals/sageschool.html. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.

JSTOR is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating and preserving a digital archive of scholarly journals. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

http://www.j stor.org/ Thu Jun 22 00:14:152006

as it seems to me. in the elucidation of the nonnecessary propositions of ordinary discourse. E.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE I "ONCE upon a time." "Some S is P. 178-190) of general propositions and the four Aristotelian forms A." "No S is P. but the modern logician. it is worth examining a single case where. P. " How shall we characterize the use of language which this familiar formula introduces? When fairy tales were told to us as children we understood them perfectly. pp. because they tempt the logician who wields them into the incautious assumption that the methods of logical analysis. What accounts for his failure is. especially as a moral may be drawn for other cases where also the obviously valuable apparatus of modern logic seems not to clarify but to distort." 19B . involves himself in paradox and absurdity in trying to say what it is that the storyteller does with words." and "Some S is not P" as shown in the Square of Opposition traditionally used for the ex1 lowe the substance of this criticism of modern logical doctrine to Mr. and as adults we still understand them though perhaps less well. and the symbolic notation which have been so fruitful and so clarifying in the treatment of mathematical or other systems of necessary truth can safely be used. Strawson. merely mutatis mutandis. • Hereafter referred to as "the authors." Mind (July. 343-344. I. This discussion reaches the now orthodox conclusion that the classical interpretation of statements of the form "All S is P. II I shall take as my example of the modern treatment of this topic the discussion by Ambrose and Lazerowitz2 in their FunrJamentals of Symbolic Logic (pp. And since in modern! manuals of logic this assumption determines the whole presentation of the subject. esp.... in spite of the arsenal of weapons at his disposal. the principles of logical classification. "On Referring. See his article. just the supply of modern weapons. it calamitously breaks down. F. 1950). I think. and O.

... and the counterrecommendation (also now orthodox) is made that while the I and 0 forms are affinnative existential sentences [( 3 x).. fx' gx of E.... .... the possibility that there are no members of the subject class. ( 3 x). f x (the existential interpretation). E and I represented by the diagonals... 199 . which entail that there exist members of the class designated by their subject tenns. as I and 0 do not. g x (the minimum interpretation) or (2) as. whereas on the classical interpretation the A and E forms have "existential import" and according to the authors their force on that interpretation is respectively"'" ( 3 x)... ..f x .. g x: (3 x).. .. and E and I are contraries since both of each pair would be false if ... ( :I x). . f x ... ( :I x).. for on this interpretation A and 0. g xl.. f x . for the modern logician. Thus.. i.. f x . f x ........... g x:(:1 x). g x and ( 3 x). f x ... f x . ( 3 x). (3 x)..... f x (called "the existential interpretation")... f x . f x. For according to the modern doctrine A can only be construed either (I) as . and they recommend that what is thus "implicit" in ordinary discourse be made explicit in an accurate logical analysis by transcribing such ordinary but elliptic English expressions by the conjunctive fonn . ( 3 x).e. "so as to imply that there are S's" and to allow this they treat such ordinary English expressions as in fact elliptic and as asserting not merely a statement of the A form but also the further existential statement (:I x) . (3 x). Of course the authors recognize that in ordinary English usage expressions of the fonn "All S is P" would be understood existentially... f x is true. whereas if the existential interpretation is chosen the relation of contradiction represented by the diagonals fails... and the relation of subcontrariety between I and 0 also fails. g x: ( 3 x)... g x: ( :I x). . there is no single interpretation of the A and E forms for which all the relations depicted in the classical Square of Opposition hold. the A and E fonns should be interpreted as negative existential sentences so as to leave open. . f x and . f x .. g x (called "the minimum interpretation") is the sole assertive force of A and correspondingly.. On this familiar basis three criticisms of the classical analysis are made: First.. . If the minimum interpretation is chosen all the relations represented by the sides of the Square fail leaving only the relationship of contradiction between A and 0.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE hibition of the logical relations between these fonns was both mistaken and inconsistent.

and the existentially understood propositions of ordinary discourse represented by the conjuncton of the minimum interpretation together with the further form (3 x). 200 . the classical interpretation leads to the supreme absurdity that the existence of at least one thing of e~ery kind whatever could be logically demonstrated. this important. and 0 forms such as the following (cited by the authors) All ogres are wicked. f x. Thirdly.. (3 x). I... So if we adopt the classical interpretation. f x . it will follow on the classical interpretation that ogres exist and "not only ogres but something of every mentionable kind would have to exist by logical necessity" (p. these propositions can be represented by it. 187).. which for the authors' view means as u say_ ing)}3." yet they would not be true if they were interpreted as asserting that there were uranium deposits in Ohio or Greek gods as. since according to the classical view "All S is P" is interpreted existentially. given any set of four propositions of the A. class of general proposition would have to be treated as exceptions to it.. For according to the authors "all these statements are held to be true.. The novelty in this presentation of the indictment is the use by the authors of a fairy-tale generalization to render glaring the absurdity of the Aristotelian interpretation and to bring out the clarificatory power of the modem analysis. it is impossible on this interpretation to express an important class of general proposition of which the authors c'ite "No uranium deposits in Ohio are easy to mine" and "All Greek gods have human frailities" and others as examples... f x. Perhaps also novel is the curious mixture of appeals to modem English usage ("there is a further justification of ~ My italics. For. 187) provided them with all that they needed for the proof of the existence of an Absolutely Perfect Being.. Some ogres are wicked.. E. in the authors' view. g x:( 3 x). the classical analysis would interpret them. Some ogres are not wicked. . if we adopt the minimum interpretation recommended.THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW Secondly. No ogres are wicked. And the authors remark that "theologians and metaphysicians" anxious to construct a proof of the existence of God oddly failed to see that the Square of Opposition "which all or nearly all of them accepted" (p. whereas..

This is. E and I" [po 185]) with the acceptance of a consequence of the modern analysis described as "at first sight paradoxical" (p. universal and particular alike. in which sense "No ogres are wicked" would be false. Can we resist the identification of fiction with either? 201 . whose subject is an ogre. to speak as if there were ogres. But novel or not. Surely to make believe that there are ogres. are false. is a curious one. that A and E are not contraries but can be true together as in the authors' fairy-tale example "All leprechauns are bearded" and "No leprechauns are bearded. meaning no more than that the proposition forms part of the story or myth. and all the particular propositions ("Some ogres are wicked. 190)." which are to be "counted" true given the circumstance that there are no leprechauns. namely. namely. since the propositions of fiction have a meaning. all such universal propositions of a fairy tale ("All ogres are wicked. But if fiction and vacuous truth seem different things. and to say of them that they are all wicked is not really the same as to assert the "vacuous" truth that nothing is an ogre and not wicked. the account which results from the analysis advocated by the authors of the general propositions of a fairy tale. most people would prefer to swallow what in the view of these authors is the consequence of the classical existential interpretation. a leprechaun. For the truth accorded in this analysis to "All ogres are wicked. so do fiction and falsity.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE the modern analysis in the fact that the classical interpretation results in upsetting the relations holding in English usage between A and 0. Perhaps rather than this." "No ogres are wicked") are true though "vacuously" true. "at first sight paradoxical" and the air of paradox is not dissipated by a second glance. there must be a subsistent but nonexistent "universe of discourse" which these propositions if true describe and if false misdescribe. or any other creature of fancy. that all the general propositions of a fairy-tale describing its fictitious beings." though called vacuous. For according to the authors' analysis. they accurately describe the world. indeed it is hardly less curious than the old pre-Russellian notion that." "Some ogres are not wicked") are false. but both these fairy-tale generalizations are true in the same factual sense that "There are no ogres" is true and for the same reason. is not truth in some harmless special sense ("true in fiction"). indeed.

" (p. 0. and what its sides and diagonals represent are statements of entailment or statements of logical necessity or impossibility.' etc. e.. it is plain that at least one of them must be true" (p.e. etc. I.) imply that there are ogres" (p. A.O forms must be hypothetical: they tell us only if 0 is false then I must be true. " 'I v 0' is a disjunction which holds necessarily. Of course we might say. " or " . Of these statements (I) surely is profoundly misleading.-0' is logically impossible" or. For the Square is simply concerned to exhibit the logical interrelation of these four forms of statement. 'There are ogres' will be false. propositions are taken to be 'All ogres are wicked. From which the authors draw their conclusion: (III) "Hence given that one of the four propositions about ogres must be true and that everyone of them implies that there must be ogres then there are no conceivable circumstances under which. This is to say that 'There are ogres' is necessarily true ." But it is quite clear that the only information which such statements of entailment or logical necessity or impossibility can yield as to the truth or falsity of values of anyone of the A.. 187).E. i." This argument involves two steps. and there seems no reason to believe that any of the "theologians or metaphysicians" who accepted the traditional Square of Opposition were committed to it. A :::> l' is logically necessary" and the line for subcontrariety between I and 0 represents "-'1' entails '0' " and" '-0' entails'!' " or " '-1. if A is true then I must be true.g.. Thus the line for superimplication drawn between A and I represents" 'A' entails'!.I. of 202 . as the authors themselves so clearly put it. 1. 0. E.. to show how the truth value of statements of one form is determined by the truth value of the others. 187). is apparent from an examination of the argument used to convict Aristotle of having provided in the Square of Opposition a proof "of the existence of at least one thing of every kind whatsoever. 186) and "the underlying assumption is such that one of the two particulars I and 0 must be true" (page 187). each of which rests I think on a misunderstanding of important features of empirical discourse and is as follows: (I) "Given any set of four propositions answering to the forms. E. (II) "Both I and 0 (where the A.THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW III That we can and indeed should resist.

E and I.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE the contradictory forms A and 0." Accordingly instead of (1) the authors are entitled only to assert: (IA) "Given any set of propositions of the forms A." but this would be a loose idiom for "If either is true then the other must be false." Now if this simple and vital correction of (I) to (IA) is made then the authors' conclusion (III) does not follow and Aristotle is not guilty of having provided a proof of the "existence of not only ogres but something of every mentionable kind" and the "theologians and metaphysicians" are not guilty of having neglected this proof. it is plain that if one or more are false one of them at least must be true" and "the underlying assumption is such that if one of two particulars I and o is false the other must be true. for in the sense required for the authors' argument this principle is not only not obvious but false. But of course the correction may be challenged on the ground that in order to sustain the authors' indictment of Aristotle we merely have to add to (I) and (II) the principle "every meaningful proposition is either true or false" and that this has not been stated only because it is too obvious to be stated even in an elementary book on logic. E. I." are used a statement is made which must be graded as either true or false. Of course we could concede that if an empirical descriptive sentence has meaning it must be possible (however vaguely or imperfectly) to describe circumstances in which if the sentence were used the statement thereby made would be true and not also false. And yet it is this that the authors must maintain if their indictment of Aristotle is to succeed. And no doubt "Some ogres are wicked" has a meaning for us just because we could specify such circumstances. only if this is the case." "Some ogres are wicked." 203 . 0. only if it is the case that on every occasion of the meaningful use of a sentence of the A. I. But here I think lies a serious misunderstanding of the nature of common discourse. and if either is false the other must be true. for. "One of them must be true. does it follow from the description given by the Square of the logical relations between these forms that one of them must be true. E. and other circumstances in which it would be false and not also true. 0 form the statement thereby made must be true or false. has Aristotle proved into existence "not only ogres but something of every mentionable kind. but this does not in the least mean that on every occasion (including the course of a fairy tale) when the sentences "All ogres are wicked.

but it is not the only use. a "multi-valued" logic. and saying things which. If Smith has no wife we refuse to say that "Smith has left off beating his wife" is true or false. for those may not exist. or the introduction of any sophisticated formal principle. Of course the sentence has a meaning which we understand: we could 204 . The prejudice is that all descriptive sentences share at least this characteristic. ogres. One such situation is the occasion when fairy tales are told to us. but the storyteller is for our entertainment making the peculiar use of words which we can call speaking as if they do. do not exist. if ogres existed. could be true or false. but it leads here to the obliteration of a vital feature in the use (and in some contexts the abuse) we make of words. factual (no ogres). or at least has made them disregard it. An important variant of this type of situation when "true" or "false" is out of place has been recognized by lawyers as well as logicians in the Fallacy of Many Questions. The context of this occasion. make it clear that it would be absurd to press seriously the question.THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW In making this criticism I am not contending for a third truth value. For we can and do often say when a sentence has been used in our presence that the question of its truth or falsity does not arise on this occasion though of course we can understand it and consequently may recognize its logical relation to other propositions. though not necessarily the entities designated by their grammatical subjects. No doubt this close identification of the notion of meaning with the notion of being true or false is a fundamental principle of the "extensional" logic which has resulted from the transfer to empirical discourse of principles appropriate enough in the logical analysis of mathematics. not "true or false in fiction") and must apply to something. but since they do not exist are neither. "Is it true (not just part of the story) that all ogres are wicked?" Indeed so far is it from being the case that every statement we understand must be either true or false that if we did press this question seriously that would be a sign that we had not understood the speaker's use of the sentence. I am on the contrary defending a feature of ordinary speech against a formal logician's prejudice which has blinded authors as accurate as these to the difference between (I) and (IA). we know. To make serious factually true or false statements is no doubt the most important use of intelligible descriptive sentences. verbal. and histrionic. that whenever they are meaningfully uttered this results in a statement which must be either true or false (factually true or false.

f x . write "Some cab drivers are well-read says4 that some in• My italics. namely. from the question whether on any particular occasion of use the statement made is true or false or. .. g x assumes that it is true.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE describe the circumstances in which it would be true or false and we could say what it entails or what is entailed by it. f x . it is necessary to keep sharply separate the question which concerns the meaning or meaningful character of a sentence. cannot be seriously characterized as either. All that is "wrong" where the Fallacy of Many Questions is committed is that on the particular occasion of its usage we cannot characterize it as true or false because this is possible only when the prior questions "Has he a wife and has he beaten her?" have been settled affirmatively. I. 0 forms which we need to understand if we are to characterize adequately their use in fiction. .. If the speaker presses for an answer to the question: "Is it true or is it false?" we say "It does not arise. in order to have the still more dubious satisfaction of calling it (vacuously) true. ( 3 x). ." Here "imply" has.. Consider the authors' statement: (II) "Both I and 0 imply that there are ogres.. And the same prejudice forces us to "translate" All ogres are wicked" into a negative existential statement.. IV The foregoing is enough to clear Aristotle of the authors' third charge. the sense of "entail:' But is (II) true? Of course the modern transcription of I and 0 as ( 3 x). as the authors make dear. 205 . f x . g x. as in the case of fiction. 178). To steer clear of these paradoxes... and consistently with this the authors (P. E.. not because it matters much that Aristotle was not guilty but because the charge rests on a misunderstanding of the precise character of the "existential import" of the A.. you must be under the mistaken impression that Smith has a wife:' Nothing but the logician's prejudice that on every occasion of use a meaningful sentence must be true or false debars us from making this natural comment: only this prejudice forces us to "translate" the sentence into an existential statement in order to have the dubious satisfaction of calling it false. in advocating this transcription. But it is important to see that the first charge of the inconsistency of the Square is for similar reasons also ill-founded. g x and ( 3 x). in what circumstances would it be true or false.

( 3 x). though it is not entailed by a sentence of the A form. But unless the propriety of the modern transcription of the I and 0 forms is already assumed there seems no reas~)ll for saying that the statement is false if made under these circumstances. f x . nor are they rendered true by it as they would be on the minimum interpretation .THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW dividuals are both cab drivers and well-read" and add the remark that "Some cab drivers are well-read" would be made false if no individual were either a cab driver or well-read. For again the proper comment in these circumstances is that the statement is not to be characterized as either true or false. . for if "There are cab drivers and there are no cab drivers that are not well-read" is true. viz.g x : (3 x). N one the less there is a close connection. "Some ogres are wicked" does not entail that there are ogres.( 3 x). Of course the story-teller who says "Some ogres are wicked" speaks on this occasion as if there were ogres.. "All ogres are wicked" and "No ogres are wicked. 0 forms as used in ordinary nonmathematical and nonscientific discourse and sentences asserting the existence of members of their subject class: they have "existential import". f x misrepresents the force of "All S is P" because what may falsify the former.g x: ( 3 x). but it is not that of the existential interpretation of the A and E forms or of the modern transcription of the I and 0 forms.. if this is so. between the A.." These do not entail "There are ogres" and are not rendered false by "There are no ogres" as they would be on the existential interpretation . it follows that "All cab drivers are well-read" is true. though not entailment. It consists in the following features of their use: (I) The existential interpretation . I.: . On the other hand a sentence of this existential form does entail.. f x . perhaps he pretends to believe that there are ogres or might even believe that in fact there are. . just as "Smith has left off beating his wife" is neither true or false if Smith has no wife or has never beaten her. f x does not falsify the latter." the fact that there are no ogres does not render what he says false. Accordingly the truth of the existential sentence is a sufficient condition of the truth of the A sentence.g x. But whichever (if any) of these is the correct description of the use made on this occasion of the sentence "Some ogres are wicked. . E.( 3 x). f x . . Moreover the same holds true of the relation between "There are no ogres" and the A and E forms. and. And so in fairy tales. (3 x). f x .

For the normal use of the A. asserting merely the existence of members of the subject class. anyone who in normal discourse asserts such a sentence as. but. f x .g. not as something which the speaker has no reason . e. For otherwise he could have no reasons for asserting it and the assumption that people do not use descriptive sentences without good reason for believing them to be true (which of course strongly influences the whole character of empirical discourse) constitutes here a nonformal connection between the existential statement and the A form. For if "P" entails "Q" then if Q is false P is false." added "But he has none. would cancel the original remark. f x and the A form.J 207 . is a necessary condition of its truth in the special sense explained above. I. f x." the addition. (2) Since the truth of the existential sentence is both a necessary and sufficient condition of the truth of the A sentence.J ( . (3) The above shows the connection between the whole complex existential sentence 3 x). This existential condition is so much part of the conventional context for the use of these forms that if a speaker after saying. but not in the same way that the truth of a sentence Q is a necessary condition of the truth of another sentence P which entails Q. but though the truth of the existential sentence is a necessary condition of the truth of the A sentence ("All ogres are wicked" could not be true unless "There are ogres and there are none that are not wicked" is true) the falsity of the existential sentence does not necessarily render the A sentence false.." and appears to be making on this occasion a serious asse"rtion will be properly taken to believe the corresponding existential sentence to be true. But these psychological terms ill convey the conventional character of the connection. fiction. But the truth of the sentence (3 x). e. 0 forms outside science and mathematics is in a context where (I) members of their subject class exist and (2) the speaker believes this. though not a contradiction (as on the existential interpretation it would be).A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE Further. and though certainly not a verification (as on the minimum interpretation).-. though it does not entail the A form. e. "All Smith's children are girls.. it is also a necessary condition.g. but as in this instance may with other circumstances show the statement made to be neither true nor false. g x :( 3 x). E..-. If we want a word we can say that the A form in the absence of a special indication "presupposes" or "strongly suggests" the truth of the existential form. "All taxi drivers are well-read.g.

" We could contradict "Some ogres are wicked" by saying "That is false: no ogres are wicked. And of course the storyteller might himself say after the story is over "But there are no ogres" without contradicting himself. for they can be used without contradiction or loss of meaning where it is not satisfied. just to show that he had been telling a story." We might say "There are no ogres" comfortingly to the crying child who has heard the storyteller say "Some ogres are wicked". (4) The use of the A. or we might say it admonishingly to the storyteller. But that this existential condition. we are saying "That applies to nothing. though its effect cannot be conveyed in the notation of quantifiers and propositional functions. but he speaks as if they did. than an examination of how "There are no ogres" might bear upon "Some ogres are wicked. The storyteller's use of sentences does not in fact satisfy the conventional requirement for normal use. but as applying to nothing. is satisfied. for that fails either by explicitly stating that the existential condition is satisfied or by ignoring it altogether. On the other hand.THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW to believe. Of 208 . I. "There are no ogres" cuts deeper at the roots of fear: it points out that the existential conditions for a serious statement which can be graded as either true or false are not on this occasion satisfied and so "Some ogres are wicked" is neither. And in either case we are doing something more radical than saying "That is false" but less radical than saying "That has no sense" . Perhaps nothing shows more clearly the connection between sentences of these forms and the existential statements which are wrongly said to be entailed by them. conventionally required for the normal use of these forms. and thus obtains his effects. E. In short "There are no ogres" shows that the conventionally required context for the serious use of these forms does not hold: and showing this is an important piece of evidence that the speaker was Just telling a story. for a vast range of empirical sentences the logical force of "All" and "Some" as part of the subject term is determined by this convention. not to be graded true or false. though it would defeat his purpose as a storyteller to say this while telling it. or by part of their meaning. 0 forms in fiction is a play upon these features of their normal usage." but contradiction is a colder comfort than what we provide with "There are no ogres. and (since it was not part of a story) pointless. is not anything which they either state or entail. as in fiction." for it leaves the child to face ogres with qualities other than wickedness.

Of course the Square tells us nothing about the difference between seriously true and false statements and fiction. as is often assumed when the Square of Opposition is attacked as inconsistent. e. on the authors' view.g.. and whether A is superimplicant to I (two relations which. . we have only to ask the hypothetical question whether. 0 forms are existential sentences to whose truth or falsity the existence of members of the subject classes is directly relevant. because alternative explanations are possible. E. dependent on the speaker's intention or state of mind: he may have been guilty of a deliberate· attempt to mislead or a sheer misunderstanding. accepting these two interpretations as exhaustive.. I. statements of these forms would not be graded as either true or false. exhaust the possibilities of interpretation. and the answer to this question (which is "yes") is not affected by the fact that on some occasions of use. if A were true. these two alternatives do not. but it depicts the logical relations between sentences which hold good independently of whether or not on any particular occasion the use made of these forms is serious statement and so true or false. I. there is nothing to prevent all the relations represented by the Square from holding good. For in considering these relations. 0 forms outside science and mathematics constitute their "existential import" and show that. These characteristics of the normal use of the A. The alleged inconsistencies in the Square materialize only if. in the event of their being no members of the subject class. or fiction and so neither. whether A and 0 are contradictories.g. would 0 be false and I true. if the speaker was bent on telling a story. Moreover. Questions of existence lie outside the scope of the Square and those who constructed it along these lines accurately interpreted the ordinary usage of these forms. cannot hold for anyone interpretation of these forms). what he said would still be fiction. though important. e. while neither the minimum interpretation nor the existential interpretation conveys their meaning or special function. even if ogres did exist. And this being so. In fact they are not forms of existential statements (though they have close connections with such statements) and the existence or nonexistence of members of the subject class determines not the truth or falsity of statements of these forms but only the prior question whether the question of their truth or falsity can arise.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE course. not proof. we mistakenly concede that the A. it is only evidence. E.

this at least is an obvious case where we would say the question of truth does not arise and would correct the mistaken assumption which has led to the remark. and "No Greek gods have human frailties" is in the corresponding sense false and not (as it too would be on the authors' interpretation) vacuously true. for. (1) No uranium deposits in Ohio are easy to mine.. If asked to say whether (I) was true. "No human beings .. bodies free from impressed forces or Greek gods.) in the same factual though vacuous sense of true..THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW What I have said is open to a misinterpretation which I can best preclude by dealing with the authors' remaining charge. But of course to see what is done by calling (3) "true. but we might also equally well say that since Greek gods did not exist the serious question of the truth or falsity of this statement cannot arise. But clearly it is necessary to distinguish between these four statements. 180). Cases (2) and (3) are different again: they are propositions of science which might well be called true: certainly we would not say the question of their truth or falsity does not arise. because they correctly describe a world in which there are no Ohio uranium deposits.. (3) All bodies free from impressed force persevere in their state of rest or in uniform motion in a straight line. and all are true (together of course with their apparent contraries "All uranium deposits . namely.. The authors draw no distinction between these four: all. there being no Ohio uranium deposits. (2) All human beings free from bacteria are free from disease." we must examine its role in the physical theory of which it is part and the way in which the theory relates to fact. that the classical existential interpretation fails to express and the modern minimum interpretation does express an important class of universal proposition (of which they cite four) all "held to be true" ." etc. if by "true" we mean the proposition is part of Greek mythology or of the religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks. This is a complex matter and involves a discussion of the sense in which contrary-to-the-fact conditionals can be called true or false. in their view.(p. only those debarred by logical prejudices from saying it was neither true nor false would say it was true. But it is clear that the truth of (2) and (3) is not vacuous 210 . (4) All Greek gods have human frailties. (4) is a different case. are negative existential statements and they so "translate" the first two. bacteria-free human beings. then in this sense it is true though not vacuously." etc. .. .

we must do a number of things which the formal logician is not accustomed to do. Smith's children) but merely in fact do not: we would not say it where S stands for a theoretical concept of physics. we must recognize that. Such general propositions of law. Hence the nonexistence of S's in cases such as (3) is not a ground for calling (3) true. we must recognize that. We would say this where the speaker in ordinary discourse is under the mistaken impression that there are S's and S's might conceivably have existed (uranium deposits in Ohio. Secondly. and the ground for asserting it is its role as a law of a theoretical system and not its success in describing the world. First. though they are not logically necessary. I. in spite of the evidence of science.A LOGICIAN'S FAIRY TALE truth: they are not true because they accurately describe the world as empty of bacteria-free human beings not also free from disease. in order to characterise a fairy tale and no doubt other important uses of words. for fiction is neither. and if it were we should have to say. etc. because a sentence has a meaning which we understand and statements made by its use have logical relations with other statements. resemble in some respects necessary propositions in that they are not themselves verifiable or falsifiable by a simple apappeal to the facts as general propositions of fact such as "All Smith's children are girls" are. v Accordingly. though the theory as a whole may be verified in various complex ways by observation. it does not follow that on every occasion of the intelligible use of the sentence a statement is made which must be either true or false. 0 forms are primarily designed for use (and so to be true and false) where objects mentioned by their subject terms exist. as a result of the obvious fact that certain types of empirical sentence such as the A. it is also quite clear that it is not always the case that where there are no S's we should say the question of the truth or falsity does not arise. there is a conventional 2II . E. but it is also not a ground for saying that the statement is neither true nor false. that their apparent contraries are also true. And this seems more than "at first sight paradoxicaL" But though the authors have given us no examples of statements of the form "All S is P" which we would say are true merely because there are no S's. and as empty of bodies at once free from impressed forces and failing to persevere in their state of motion or rest. This is simply not their role.

Thirdly. and (2) why the speaker spoke as if this condition were satisfied. H. L. This conventional connection is not entailment. we must shift our logical attention from the general to the particular. but in the use (which is in a sense a calculated abuse) of a general form of words on a particular occasion. but on the circumstances of particular occasions of use.THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW connection between these sentences and existential sentences by WhICh we affirm that the conditions for normal use are satisfied. we must enquire ( I) whether the existential condition required for the normal use of a sentence is satisfied. HART New College. or the truth conditions. Oxford 212 . A. and on what may be called the mode of assertion of the sentence on the particular occasion.. and we must concentrate not on the meaning. and one of the major devices of fiction is the intentional infringement of the convention. or the logical relations of statements. For the differentia of fiction does not lie in the general matters first mentioned. That is.