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PART I

A GLOSSARY OF PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS
Philosophy does not possess a full-scale technical vocabulary such as those used in the Natural
Sciences and in Mathematics. Nevertheless, the study of any special branch of Philosophy (such
as Moral Philosophy or Political Philosophy) typically requires a critical understanding of certain
special concepts and doctrines (such as “goodness”, “Utilitarianism”, “sovereignty”, “Marxism”
etc.). There are, moreover, certain expressions which are used in virtually all types of
Philosophical debate. Some of these have acquired a sense rather more precise than that which
they have in colloquial English, while others are scarcely ever used in colloquial English at all.
The prospective student of Philosophy would be well advised to learn to recognise and to
understand such expressions; what follows is a glossary of some of the more common and
important ones.

Notes:

(1) The numbers in the list below refer to the sections in which the terms mentioned are
explained.

(2) “IPA” stands for Introduction to Philosophical Analysis (Revised Edition) by John
Hospers. There are several copies in the Library, and it is usually available in the
Bookshop.

(3) “EP” stands for “Encyclopaedia of Philosophy”, of which there are two complete sets in
the Library.

(1) Proposition
Sentence

(2) Argument
Premiss
Conclusion
Valid/Invalid
Truth/Validity
Fallacy
Fallacious
Entailment
Logical Implication
Logical Equivalence
Contradictory/Contrary (“Refute”)

(3) Deductive/Inductive Arguments
“Problem of Induction”
Epistemology
Reasoning
Inference

(4) Logical/Physical possibility
“Modal Logic”
Necessary/Contingent propositions
Analytic/Synthetic propositions

(5) Necessary/Sufficient conditions
Logically/Causally necessary (sufficient) conditions
Hypothetical/Categorical propositions
Protasis/Apodosis

Counterfactual (Contrary-to-fact) conditionals

(6) A priori / a posteriori

(7) A fortiori
Strong/Weak Theses

(8) Argumentum ad Hominem

(9) Reductio ad Absurdum

(10) Dilemma

(11) “Begging the Question”
Circular arguments
The Fallacy of Petitio Principii

(12) First order/Second order questions

(13) ipso facto
eo ipso
mutatis mutandis
seriatim
simpliciter
(1) PROPOSITION (See I.P.A. pp. 77-97)

The simplest definition of a “proposition” is that it is anything which may be said to be
either true or false. For example, it is true that London is the capital of England. Thus the
English sentence “London is the capital of England” expresses a proposition which is true, the
proposition, namely, that London is the capital of England. On the other hand, it would be false
to say that two and two make five. Thus the English sentence "two and two make five"
expresses a propositi which is false, the proposition, namely, that two and two make five.

Notice the difference between sentences and propositions. Sentences are grammatically
correct groups of words, and thus belong to some particular language, e.g .English. The French
sentence “Londres est la capitale de l’Angleterre” is a different sentence from “London is the
capital of England”; but both express the same proposition.

(2) ARGUMENT

I might say in colloquial English “I have just had a heated argument with John” meaning
by the word “argument”: “altercation”, or “verbal dispute”. However, I might also say, in
colloquial English, “the arguments put forward by the defending counsel were far more
persuasive than those of the prosecution; so I became convinced that the accused was, in fact,
innocent”. The word “argument” is typically used in the latter sense in Philosophical writing.

Here is a well-worn example of an argument. The great Philosopher ARISTOTLE first
coined it to illustrate a certain form of syllogism (see EP under “Aristotle”)

(1) All men are mortal.
(2) Socrates is a man.
Therefore: (3) Socrates is mortal.

We call the first two propositions the PREMISSES of the argument and the third proposition the
CONCLUSION of the argument. (Notice that I say “proposition”, not “sentence”. When
Aristotle first coined the argument, he expressed it in Ancient Greek. The argument itself is
independent of the particular language in which it happens to be expressed.)

We may say, furthermore, that the argument is a VALID argument, in that the conclusion
follows logically from the premisses.

What does it mean, more precisely, to say that the conclusion “follows logically” from
the premisses? Well, it means just that IF the premisses are true, NECESSARILY the
conclusion is true as well. But what, then, does “necessarily” amount to here? What sort of
necessity is this? Why, precisely, must the conclusion follow from the premisses?

Well suppose someone says “I admit that (1) all men are mortal and that (2) Socrates is a
man, but I still deny that (3) Socrates is mortal”. This would be an odd thing to say; indeed it
would be a SELF-CONTRADICTORY thing to say. For, in asserting (affirming, stating) that the
premisses, (1) and (2), are true, one simply is asserting, implicitly, that the conclusion (3) is true
as well. Or, to put this the other way around, in asserting that the conclusion (3) is true one is
simply making explicit something which is already contained, implicitly in the premisses. The
conclusion, therefore, doesn’t really add anything to the premisses; if you know to begin with,
that the premisses are true, then you would not be receiving any genuinely new information if
you were told that the conclusion is true. Given that you know the premisses, you are already in
a position to work out, for yourself, that the conclusion must be true as well.

We may say, then, that an argument is properly called “VALID” if, and only if it would
be SELF-CONTRADICTORY to assert the premisses and to deny the conclusion.

Let me emphasise, here, that to say that a certain argument is valid is not to say that its
premisses are, in fact, true; it is only to say that IF the premisses are true, then the conclusion
must be true as well. The distinction between “truth” and “validity” is one which is often missed
by students of Philosophy, and this is a great shame; for it is not very difficult to grasp, and it
can be very useful when it comes to articulating one’s own philosophical criticism. Perhaps an
example or two will help to make the distinction more apparent (See also IPA pp.129-130).
Consider then, the following argument:

(1) All Australians are six feet tall.
(2) Dudley Moore is an Australian.
Therefore: (3) Dudley Moore is six feet tall.

Now, all three of these propositions (premisses and conclusions) are, in actual fact, false, but the
argument is, nonetheless, valid. For, clearly, IF the premisses had been true then, necessarily the
conclusion would have been true as well. Anyone who asserted that the premisses were true, but
that the conclusion was false, would be, in effect, contradicting himself.

Consider another argument:

(1) All men are mortal.
(2) The Prime Minister of Australia is mortal.
Therefore: (3) The Prime Minister of Australia is a man.

All three propositions, in this case, are true, but that doesn’t stop the argument from being
invalid.
To see why, we need only consider the possibility - the logical possibility - that the Australians
(like the British) might have elected a woman as Prime Minister. In this case the premisses
would have been true even though the conclusion was false. It follows, therefore, that anyone
who asserts that the premisses are true and the conclusion is false is not, thereby, assertirig
anything which is self-contradictory - although, of course, he (or she is asserting something
which actually happens to be false in part.

Remember, then, that:

PROPOSITIONS are TRUE (or FALSE)
ARGUMENTS are VALID (or INVALID).

Four more points:

(1) The term “FALLACIOUS” may be used as a synonym of “invalid” (but not, repeat not
of “false”). A “FALLACY” is, by definition, an “invalid argument”. (See (ii) below for
an example of a notorious type of fallacy).

(2) The terms “ENTAILMENT” and “LOGICAL IMPLICATION” may be used
interchangeably. If it is said that a certain proposition “entails” (or “logically implies”) a
certain other proposition, then what this means is that the latter “follows logically” from
the former in just the same sense of “follows logically” which was explained above. In
other words, a certain proposition (call it “p”) may be said to “entail” a certain other
proposition (call it “q”) if and only if it would be self-contradictory to assert that p while
denying that q.

(3) A proposition (p) may be said to be “LOGICALLY EQUIVALENT” to a certain (other)
proposition q if and only if p ENTAILS AND IS ENTAILED BY q. So, for example, the
proposition that all men are mortal is “logically equivalent” to the proposition that no
immortal beings are men, and the proposition that if Reagan is a statesman then I am a
Dutchman is “logically equivalent” to the proposition that if I am not a Dutchman, then
Reagan is not a statesman. (See below Section 5).
(4) “CONTRADICTORY” versus “CONTRARY”. The “contradictory” of any given
proposition is the proposition which constitutes the mere denial of that proposition. So,
for example, the “contradictory” of the proposition that Queen Victoria died 1902 is the
proposition that it is not the case that Queen Victoria died in 1902. In other words, the
“contradictory” of any given proposition (call it “p”) is that proposition which is true if p
is false, and which false if p is true.

Consider, now, the proposition that Queen Victoria died in 1900. This proposition is,
clearly, incompatible with the proposition that Queen Victoria died in 1902. Both of them
cannot be true. On the other hand, both of them can be false. (Indeed, both of them are false; for
she died in 1901). The proposition that Queen Victoria died in 1900 may therefore, be described
as “contrary” to (or as one of the “contraries” of) the proposition that Queen Victoria died in
1902 (and vice versa). In other words, a “contrary” of any given proposition (call it “p”) is a
proposition which is false if p is true but which is not, necessarily, true if p is false.

Incidentally, it is sometimes said, in colloquial English, that someone “REFUTED” a
certain allegation when all that is meant is that he denied the allegation, or objected to it in some
way. Note, however, that the term “refute”, strictly speaking, means “prove beyond question to
be false”. To say that someone has “refuted” a certain proposition in the strict sense (the sense in
which is liable to be used in Philosophical literature) is to say that he has succeeded in proving
that the proposition in question is false (or, if you like, that he has succeeded in establishing its
“contradictory”). One cannot “refute” a proposition in this sense, merely by denying it.
(3) DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS versus INDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS

(See IPA pp. 128-133 pp.. 250-259.) Consider again the valid argument which was borrowed
from Aristotle:

(1) All men are mortal
(2) Socrates is a man
Therefore: (3) Socrates is mortal

Now compare it with the following argument:

(1) Whenever I have run a mile in the past I have felt exhausted.
Therefore: (2) The next time I run a mile I shall feel exhausted.

We said above that the first argument is to be counted as valid in that it would be self-
contradictory to assert the premisses while denying the conclusion. Arguments of this sort may
be called DEDUCTIVE arguments in that, given the truth of the premisses, one may DEDUCE
the conclusion. The verb “to deduce” is derived from the Latin “deducere” which means,
literally, “to draw out from”. The idea, then, is that in “deducing” a conclusion from certain
premisses one is merely “drawing out”, or making explicit, something which is already contained
implicitly, in the premisses themselves.

But consider now the second argument. Is this a “valid” argument in just the
same sense as the first? It is clear, on reflection, that it is not; for to assert what has happened to
me in the past is not, in itself, to assert what is going to happen to me in the future. We all,
naturally, tend to believe that past experience provides a reliable indication of what our future
experience will probably be like. But that is another matter. To assert how things have
happened in the past is not, in itself, to assert how things will happen in the future. I don’t say
anything self-contradictory if I assert that the future will be different from the past in some
particular respect - although, of course, it may be quite unreasonable of me to do so.

Arguments of this second sort are generally called INDUCTIVE arguments to distinguish
them from the former deductive variety. To be more precise, an argument is called “inductive” if
it proceeds from a premiss about certain observed instances of a certain class (perhaps a very
large number of observed instances) to a conclusion about other, as yet unobserved, instances of
that class (or to a conclusion about all the instances in the class, taken as a whole).

Granted that arguments of this kind cannot, in the nature of the case, be “valid” in the
sense in which deductive arguments are valid, the question arises whether there is any sense at
all in which an inductive argument may be counted as “valid”. In other words are inductive
arguments really good arguments (sound, rationally persuasive) arguments? Does the premiss of
an inductive argument really provide any evidence at all for the conclusion?

This so-called “PROBLEM OF INDUCTION” is an EPISTEMOLOGICAL problem
(“Epistemology”, or “Theory of Knowledge”, is the branch of Philosophy concerned with
general questions about knowledge) which has still not received a generally accepted solution.
The problem was first put in the way indicated above by the great Scottish Philosopher DAVID
HUME (see EP under “Hume”).

Final note: just as deductive arguments are distinguished from inductive arguments so
deductive REASONING (or INFERENCE) is distinguished from inductive REASONING (or
INFERENCE). In colloquial English, it might sometimes be said that “John became angry
because Harry inferred that he was lying” meaning by “inferred”: “implied by innuendo”. In
Philosophical writing on the other hand, the word “infer” usually means “draw a conclusion” as
in “one may infer that Socrates is mortal from the premisses that all men are mortal and that
Socrates is a man.”

(4) LOGICAL POSSIBILITY/NECESSITY
versus
PHYSICAL POSSIBILITY/NECESSITY

The expressions “logically possible” “logically impossible”, “logical possibility” etc.
crop up not infrequently in Philosophical writing. What do they mean?

Well, the basic idea is implicit in what has already been said. A condition may be
described as “logically possible” if, and only if, it may be described without self-contradiction.
Or, to put this another way: we may say that it is “logically possible” that a certain proposition
might be true if, and only if that proposition is not self-contradictory. Thus it is logically
possible (even though, in actual fact, very unlikely) that I might live for another hundred years,
since this supposition is not self-contradictory.

On the other hand, to say that something is “logically impossible” is, of course, to say
that it cannot be described without self-contradiction. Thus it is logically impossible, for
example, that a man might remain a bachelor after marrying someone since “bachelor” simply
means “unmarried man”. One can’t - logically can’t - be both married and not married at the
same time. Similarly, it is logically impossible that a man should survive a fatal wound, since to
describe the wound as “fatal” is to imply that he died as a result of it.

The terminology of logical possibility enables one to raise questions, in a precise sort of
way, about the CONCEPTS that we employ. Philosophical enquiry typically involves the
examination of certain concepts. Consider, for example, the so-called MIND/BODY PROBLEM
(see EP under that heading). One of the crucial questions raised in that context is: is it logically
possible for a person to survive the death of his (or her) body? Some Philosophers think it is;
others disagree. (See EP under “Dualism” and “Descartes”).

Is it logically possible that a man might fly - say, like Superman? Yes it is, since it is not
self-contradictory to suppose that one might. Indeed, if one has seen “Superman - the Movie”
then one has seen some extremely realistic presentation (thanks to the special-effects men) of
what it would actually look like if a man were to fly. However, one is very likely to say at this
point: “it is not REALLY possible for a man to fly: this is quite contrary to all the known Laws
of Nature”. (See IPA 232-236). And so, indeed, it is.
This illustrates the difference between LOGICAL POSSIBILITY and PHYSICAL
POSSIBILITY. I don’t contradict myself if I say that I am going to fly (without benefit of
aircraft) or live for a month without breathing, or run a mile in three minutes. But we all know
(or think we know) that these things are not really possible: which is to say they are not
“PHYSICALLY” (or “CAUSALLY”) possible.

Possibility and necessity are just two sides of the same coin; one can be defined in terms
of the other. So, for instance, to say that it is possible that X will happen is just to say that it is
not, necessarily the case that X will not happen. Conversely, to say that X necessarily will
happen, is just to say that it is not possibly the case that X will not happen. (Incidentally, the
branch of Logic which deals with possibility and necessity is called MODAL LOGIC. See.E.P.
under this heading).

It follows, therefore, that, just as we can distinguish logical from physical possibility, so
we can distinguish logical from physical necessity.

Thus, for example, it is logically necessary that if someone is a bachelor, then he is
unmarried. For, granted that “bachelor” simply means “unmarried man”, it would be self-
contradictory to assert that someone was a bachelor while denying that he was unmarried. On
the other hand, it is a matter of physical (not logical) necessity, that if I step off the diving-board,
then I shall travel downwards towards the water (rather than, say, hover around the same spot as
astronauts do in conditions of weightlessness).

Consider, then, the proposition that all bachelors are unmarried. Since it would be self-
contradictory to deny this proposition, we may call it a “LOGICALLY NECESSARY
PROPOSITION” or, simply, a “NECESSARY PROPOSITION”.

We may also describe this proposition as “ANALYTICALLY TRUE” or, simply, as
“ANALYTIC”. The idea, here, is that we may determine the truth of the proposition merely by
“analysing” it - i.e. merely by breaking it down into its constituent logical elements. Since the
expression “bachelors” is, by definition, equivalent to the expression “unmarried men”, we can
see that the proposition that all bachelors are unmarried is equivalent to the proposition that all
unmarried men are unmarried. And this latter proposition is trivially true; indeed it is what is
called a “TAUTOLOGY” i.e. a proposition which. is true simply in that it virtually repeats itself.
(The word is taken from an Ancient Greek expression meaning “something which says the same
thing”). If I say that everyone who is unmarried is, in fact, unmarried, then I have said something
which is necessarily true (albeit that there is another sense in which I haven’t really said anything
at all).

“NECESSARY” propositions are generally contrasted with “CONTINGENT”
propositions. A “contingent” proposition, to be more precise, is a proposition which is neither
necessarily true, as a matter of logic, nor necessarily false, as a matter of logic. In other words,
the question whether or not it is true is not to be decided on logical grounds alone. For example,
if someone says that Ronald Reagan dyes his hair, and someone else denies this, then it seems
clear enough that neither person is saying anything internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.
Whichever of these assertions is true, it is true, not in virtue of logical factors, but, rather, in
virtue of Ronald Reagan’s actual behaviour; it is true, in short, as a matter of “contingent” fact.
We might say, then, that a “contingent” proposition is one which, if true, just happens to be true
(because the world happens, in fact, to be like that) and, if false, just happens to be false (because
the world happens, in fact, not to be like that). Notice that “contingency” in this sense is to be
contrasted only with logical necessity. It is, indeed, a matter of physical necessity that I shall
never run a mile in under three minutes. But the proposition that I shall never run a mile in
under three minutes and the proposition that I shall, on some occasion, run a mile in under three
minutes are both “contingent” propositions in the favoured sense. (The former is contingently
true and the latter is contingently false.)

The term “ANALYTIC”, on the other hand, is generally contrasted with the term
“SYNTHETIC”. A “synthetic” proposition, then, is any proposition the truth of which is not to
be determined merely by an analysis of its meaning. The term “synthetic” (like “analytic”) has
an Ancient Greek derivation; it comes from a word meaning “to place together”. The idea is
that, whereas analytic propositions are, in effect, merely repetitious, in a “synthetic” proposition
something which is not contained in the first term of the proposition is, so to speak, joined or
added to it. Thus the proposition “all bachelors are music-lovers” is synthetic, in that the concept
of a “music lover” is no part of the meaning of the term “bachelor”.

Final important note. My purpose, in compiling this Glossary, is simply to acquaint
students with some more or less specialised Philosophical terms, and with the senses in which
these terms are commonly used. But students should be aware, at the same time, that some of
these terms are themselves subjects of Philosophical controversy. (There are, indeed, very few
things which are not, in some context or other, subjects of Philosophical controversy!) Some
Philosophers, most notably the American logician W.V.D. QUINE (See IPA pp. 167-169; also
EP under “Quine” and under “analytic”) have questioned the validity of the “analytic” /
“synthetic” distinction, and, by implication, the validity of the notion of “logical possibility” in
the form in which I have attempted to explain it here. I think it is fair to say, nevertheless, that
such Philosophers as use these terms at all would normally use them in the ways which I have
attempted to explain. In order to understand what these Philosophers might be getting at, it is
still necessary to get to grips with their characteristic use of them. And besides (if I may put my
own personal opinion) I think that Quine’s opponents get the better of the argument anyway.
(Students of Logic will be able to decide for themselves).

(5) “NECESSARY” CONDITIONS
versus
“SUFFICIENT” CONDITIONS

The expressions “necessary condition” and “sufficient condition” crop up frequently in
Philosophical discussion. What, precisely, do they mean?

Well, consider first the following proposition:
(i) If John is a bachelor, then John is unmarried.

This proposition may be described as “HYPOTHETICAL” (or “CONDITIONAL”) in that it
conforms to the pattern “IF such and such THEN such and such”. We might express this more
technically by saying that it has the LOGICAL FORM “if p then q”. (Incidentally, propositions
which assert that something is the case unconditionally are called “CATEGORICAL”).

Now, in any proposition of the form “if p then q” the clause introduced by the “if” is
called the “PROTASIS” and the clause introduced by the “then” is called the “APODOSIS”.
Thus, in the example, the protasis is “if John is a bachelor” and the apodosis is “then John is
unmarried”.

Granted, then, that a hypothetical proposition asserts that there is some sort of relation
between the condition specified by the protasis and the condition specified by the apodosis,
precisely what relation is thus asserted?

Consider the example. What relation does it claim to exist between John’s being a
bachelor and John’s being unmarried? Well, one way of describing the relation is this: what this
proposition asserts is that John’s being a bachelor would be SUFFICIENT for John’s being
unmarried. Nothing else would be required. Provided only that he is a bachelor, he is thereby
assured of being unmarried.

We might say more fully, that John’s being a bachelor constitutes a “SUFFICIENT
CONDITION” of John’s being a bachelor.

It follows, conversely, that John’s being unmarried is a “NECESSARY CONDITION” of
John’s being a bachelor. For if he were not unmarried he would not be a bachelor.

“Sufficient” and “necessary” conditions are, therefore, two sides of the same coin. Given
any hypothetical proposition of the form “if p then q” we may say that p is a “sufficient
condition” of q, and that q is a “necessary condition” of p.

We might put the same point in other words by saying that: any hypothetical proposition
of the form “if p then q” is LOGICALLY EQUIVALENT (see Section (2) above) to the
corresponding proposition that “q only if p”.

Thus, for example, the proposition that if John is a bachelor then John is unmarried is
logically equivalent to the proposition that:

(ii) John is a bachelor only if John is unmarried.

Consider, again, the first proposition (number (i)). Granted that it is true, the question
arises: what makes it true?
Well it is clear, on reflection, that it is “necessarily” rather than “contingently” true (see
section (4) above). In other words, it is true on logical grounds alone. Bachelors are by
definition unmarried.

We may say, therefore, that John’s being a bachelor is a LOGICALLY SUFFICIENT
CONDITION of John’s being unmarried and that, conversely, John’s being unmarried is a
LOGICALLY NECESSARY CONDITION of John’s being a bachelor.

Now, however, we must consider the following proposition.

(iii) If I step off the diving-board, then I shall travel downwards into the water.

Granted that there are occasions on which we should certainly assent to this hypothetical
proposition, on what grounds should we do so? Not on logical grounds alone, but (also) because
we believe in a certain causal law, namely the Law of Gravity.

In this case, then, that my stepping off the diving board would constitute a CAUSALLY
SUFFICIENT CONDITION of my travelling downward into the water. If I wished to bring
about the latter, all I would need to do is to bring about the former.

May we say, then, that my travelling downwards into the water constitutes causally
necessary condition of my stepping off the diving-board?

Well let us be careful at this point. What we can say (following the principle explained
above) is that if it is granted that:

(3) If I step off the diving-board, then I shall travel downwards into water then it
follows, logically, that the world may be such that I step the diving board at a certain time only
if the world is also such that I travel downwards into the water immediately after that time.
Nevertheless, it would sound odd to say that my travelling downwards into the water constitutes
a CAUSALLY necessary condition of my stepping off the diving board at an earlier time. The
reason, of course, is that “causes” are normally supposed to PRECEDE their effects.

We may, however, say, quite properly, that my NOT stepping off the diving board is a
“CAUSALLY NECESSARY CONDITION” of my NOT travelling downwards into the water.
If I wish to ensure that I don’t travel downwards into the water then it is necessary that I ensure
that I don’t step off the diving-board. (Here there is no suggestion that a causal condition might
be subsequent to its effect.)

This last point makes use of the principle that any proposition of the form “if p then q” is
logically equivalent to the corresponding proposition of the form “if it is NOT the case that q
then it is NOT the case that p.” This principle might not seem obvious at first sight, but on
second, or third sight, it becomes a bit clearer.

So, for example, to claim that if John is a bachelor then he is unmarried is to claim, in
effect, that if John is not unmarried then he is not bachelor.
Let me conclude with a less convoluted example of a “causally necessary condition”.
Consider then the following propositions

(iv) John will not remain alive underwater for fifteen minutes UNLESS John
is using some form of breathing apparatus.
(v) John will not remain alive underwater for fifteen minutes WITHOUT
using some form of breathing apparatus.

(vi) If John is going to remain alive underwater for fifteen minutes then John is
going to be using some form of breathing apparatus.

(vii) John will remain alive underwater for fifteen minutes ONLY IF John is using
some form of breathing apparatus.

All of these propositions are saying (in different ways) that it is a causally necessary
coudition of John’s remaining alive underwater for fifteen minutes, that John should be using
some form of breathing apparatus.

Two final notes. 1) Sometimes it is not obvious whether a necessary conditon is causally
or logically necessary. And more or less important Philosophical issues may turn on just such a
question.

For instance: is it causally or logically necessary for your continued existence that you
should continue to possess a physical body? Is it a causally or logically necessary condition of
your “SEEING” something, that you should use your EYES in doing so?
(See I.P.A. pp. 232-236 and 279-320 for more discussion of “causes” and “Laws of Nature”.)

2) Some hypothetical propositions are called “COUNTERFACTUAL” (or
“CONTRARY-TO-FACT”) CONDITIONALS. These are hypothetical propositions in which
both protasis and apostosis are presumed to be false. For instance, “If I had stepped off the
diving-board, then I would have travelled downwards into the water” - but as it happens I didn’t.
It is an unsolved Philosophical problem precisely how such conditionals should be interpreted.

(6) “A PRIORI” versus “A POSTERIORI” (See IPA pp. 179-8)4).

These terms are epistemological in that they mark a distinction between different ways of
knowing.

Thus, to say one knows something “A POSTERIORI” is to say, broadly, that one knows
it on the basis of one’s experience of the world - or as we might also say on “EMPIRICAL”
grounds (“A posteriori” is a Latin phrase meaning literally “from what comes after”; “empirical”
comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning “experimental” “to do with experience”.)
What sorts of thing do we know (if at all) a posteriori? Well consider, first, the examples
of “contingent” propositions offered above in Section 4. Just suppose that I really wanted to
dIscover whether or not Ronald Reagan dyed his hair. How should I go about it? Presumably,
by some sort of investigation or observation (direct or indirect) of his actual behaviour. Suppose,
then, that I discover that he does in actual fact dye his hair; then my knowledge will be “a
posteriori” in that it is based, in a certain way, on my actual experience of the world.

Consider, also, the Natural Sciences - Physics, Chemistry etc. Do you think they give us
any knowledge of the world? If you do (some Philosophers would disagree, by the way), then
what sort of knowledge do you think it is? What sort of basis does it have?

Any knowledge-claim based upon observation, or upon the result of some experiment,
may be said to be based on “a posteriori” grounds.

By contrast, if one knows something “A PRIORI” (Latin = “from what comes before”)
then one knows it in some way which is independent of one’s experience of the world.

What sorts of thing are known a priori? Consider, again, the definition of “analytic”
propositions which was offered in (14) above. Given that such propositions remain true
whatever the world (and our experience of it) might actually be like, it seems to follow that our
knowledge of such propositions cannot be said to be “based on our experience of the world” in
the same way as, say, scientific knowledge is “based upon our experience of the world”. So if it
is granted that we do know some such propositions, then we must know them in some other way
- a way which operates independently of what our actual experience of the world happens to be
like. This way of knowing is properly called “a priori”.

Philosophers generally agree, therefore, that “analytic” propositions may only be known
(if at all) a priori. Do all philosophers, similarly, agree that all propositions which are
“synthetic”, in the sense defined above, may only be known a posteriori? Interestingly enough,
they don’t. This is, indeed, one of the major issues in the debate between EMPIRICISM and
RATIONALISM. The great German Philosopher IMMANUEL KANT (who enters this debate
on the side of Rationalism) maintained that there are some propositions which, although their
denial would not be self-contradictory, in the strict sense, can nevertheless be known a priori.
(He had in mind such propositions as “there are such things as material objects”, “space is three-
dimensional” “every event has a cause”). If you wish to pursue these issues further, see E.P.
under “Empiricism”, “Rationalism”, “Kant”.

Final puzzle: we all know (don’t we?) that an object cannot be red all over and green all
over, at one and the same time. But do we know this a posteriori? or a priori?

(7) A FORTIORI
“STRONG” THESES versus “WEAK” THESES

Sometimes you may see it stated that: given a certain premiss, a certain conclusion
follows “A FORTIORI”. What does this mean?
Well, consider a couple of examples.

Given the premiss that all men are mortal it follows, a fortiori, that all English men are
mortal.

Given the premiss that all bachelors are unmarried men it follows, a fortiori, that all
bachelors are unmarried.

In each of these cases, while the premiss, taken by itself, ENTAILS the conclusion (see
above for the definition of “entails”), the conclusion, equally clearly does not entail the premiss.
In other words, the premiss says something over and above what is said by the conclusion; the
conclusion constitutes a more modest claim than the premiss.

This, then, is the hallmark of an “a fortiori” argument: the premiss by itself entails the
conclusion, but the conclusion does not entail the premiss.

“A fortiori” is Latin for “from something stronger”. Philosophers quite often contrast
“STRONG” theses from “WEAK” theses. What they mean by this, generally speaking, is that
the “strong” thesis entails, but is not entailed, by the corresponding “weak” thesis. So, for
example, one might contrast the “weak” thesis that at least some synthetic propositions are to be
known (if at all) a posteriori, with the “strong” thesis that all synthetic propositions are to be
known (if at all) a posteriori. (Kant, incidentally would have agreed with the former, but
disagreed with the latter).

(8) ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM

Sometimes one sees the phrase “argumentum ad hominem” (or “an ad hominem” etc.).
What does it mean?

Well it has two possible senses only one of which is typically Philosophical. (Its literal
meaning is “argument against the man”.)

The first (non-typical) sense may be explained thus. Suppose that, instead of providing
arguments against the views expressed by a particular M.P. his political opponents seek to
discredit these views simply by conducting a smear campaign against the M.P. himself (alleging
that he has had an affair with his secretary etc.). Then one might properly accuse his opponents
of indulging in a mere “argumentum ad hominem”, rather than addressing themselves to the
views which he had expressed.

However this phrase has a rather different (and, I dare say, more refined sense in its
typically Philosophical use. If one mounts an “argumentum ad hominem” against a certain
Philosopher (as, for example, BERKELEY did against LOCKE) then one is, in effect,
challenging the internal consistency of the views which that Philosopher has expressed. One is
attempting to show that at least one of the views expressed is logically incompatible with the
others.
9) REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM

A “reductio ad absurdum” (or simply, “reductio”) is an argument in which one attempts
to prove that a certain proposition is true by, initially, assuming that it is false, and then showing
that some consequence follows from this assumption which is incompatible with what has
already been established. (The Latin means literally “reduction to the absurd”).

Here is an example: “Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that Jones is the burglar;
then it follows that he must have been at the scene of the crime between 10 o’clock and 12
o’clock, since that was when the burglary occurred. However, we have already established that
Jones was in Manchester at 12.30, and since it takes at least three hours to get to Manchester
from the scene of the crime, Jones cannot have been at the scene of the crime between 10 o’clock
and 12 o’clock. Therefore Jones is not the burglar.”

10) DILEMMA

The word “dilemma” is sometimes used in a specialised sense in Philosophical argument.
In this specialised sense it means an argument in which one attempts to prove that a certain
proposition is false by showing (l) that, if it is true, then either one or other of two possible
consequences must follow and (2) that each of these consequences is equally unacceptable.

Here is an example of an argument put in the form of a dilemma. “Suppose Mr.
Penhaligon has a child. It follows, then, that EITHER he has a son OR he has a daughter.
Suppose he has a son. Then his son must be in the local Boy’s School. However, there is no boy
of that name in the local Boy’s School. Suppose, on the other hand, that he has a daughter. Then
his daughter must be in the local Girl’s school. However, there is no girl of that name in that
school. Therefore Mr. Penhaligon does not have a child at all.”

(11) “BEGGING THE QUESTION”
CIRCULAR ARGUMENTS
THE FALLACY OF PETITIO PRINCIPII

One of the criticisms most frequently raised in the course of Philosophical debate is the
criticism that a certain argument is “circular”. What, precisely, does this mean?

First, it should be noted that all the following expressions are used in virtually the same
sense: “using a circular argument”, “arguing in a circle”, “begging the question”, “committing a
petitio”. They all refer to the same sort of FALLACY (See (2) above), namely the fallacy of
“Petitio Principii”. This fallacy (Latin = “pursuit of the principle”) is the fallacy which consists
in (tacitly) assuming what you are attempting to prove.

Consider the following conversation:

Smith : Everything that the Bible says is literally true.
Jones : Why do you believe that?
Smith : Because God says so, and God would not lie.
Jones : But why do you believe that God says so?
Smith : Because the Bible says that God says so, and everything that the Bible says is
literally true.

Smith has thus come full circle; one can see why such arguments are called “circular”.

Here is another simple example:

Smith: Brown is a friend of mine.
Jones: What makes you think so?
Smith: Because Brown himself told me so, and people don’t lie to their friends.

In each of these cases it is clear that Smith, in attempting to defend one of his views, uses
an argument which itself depends upon the truth of the view being defended. This is the
hallmark of the fallacy of “petitio principii”.

Of course, not all instances of this fallacy are quite so obviously “fishy” as the instances
quoted above. I mentioned the “Problem of Induction” in (3) above.

When (unsuspecting) people are asked what reasons they have for placing reliance on
inductive arguments, they are sometimes tempted to reply: “because inductive arguments have
served me well in the past” or something to that effect. But isn’t this to “argue in a circle”? To
suppose that the past success of inductive arguments constitutes evidence for their future success
is itself to make tacit use of the principle that the past is a reliable iridicator of the future. But
this principle is precisely what is in question.

In constructing your own Philosophical arguments always beware of the pitfalls of
circularity.

(12) “FIRST ORDER” QUESTIONS
versus
“SECOND ORDER” QUESTIONS

Philosophers often draw a distinction between “first order” questions and “second order”
(or “higher order” or “meta-” questions). What do they mean?

Well, consider the following question:

(1) What were the causes of the First World War?

Now, if we treat this as a “first order” question, then the following would be examples of
“second order” (or “higher order” or “meta-” questions): how, in principle, should an historian
set about answering questions such as (1)? What, precisely, are historical “causes”? What,
precisely, is meant by the term “cause” in such a context? Do historians mean by “cause” just
what natural scientists mean by “cause”?

“Second order” questions, in short, are questions ABOUT the corresponding “first order”
questions. They ask, typically, about the meaning of “first order” questions - the precise ways in
which they are to be interpreted; and they ask about the methods which one should properly use
in attempting to resolve such questions. We might say, more technically, that “second order”
questions are concerned with both the LOGICAL and the EPISTEMOLOGICAL (see section
(3)) issues implicit in the corresponding “first order” questions.

Here is another example:

(2) Is “Pride and Prejudice” a better novel than “Sense and Sensibility”?

If we were to treat this as a “first order” question what might the range of “second order”
questions be?

Well, it would clearly include such questions as: What is meant by the term “novel” in
the first place? What functions are “novels” typically expected to perform? What sorts of feature
constitute merit in a novel? And how is one to decide, in any event whether a particular feature
constitutes a merit or not? What does “better” mean here? Is “goodness” in a novel an objective
matter - or rather a matter of individual (subjective) opinion? Does it make any sense to talk of
“goodness” at all in such a context?

(13 ) SUNDRY LATIN EXPRESSIONS

“ipso facto” : literally “by the deed itself”. Thus, for example, one might say “If Smith has
murdered someone, then he is ipso facto a murderer.

“eo ipso” : literally “by that itself”. For example “If someone does not believe that God exists,
then he is, eo ipso, an atheist”.

“mutatis mutandis” : literally “with those things having been changed which were to be
changed”. For example: “the argument which was used to show that Socrates is mortal could be
applied, mutatis mutandis, to Aristotle “seriatim” : literally “one at a time”. “simpliciter” :
literally “simply”; this is used in much the same way as the French “tout court” or the colloquial
“full stop” or (American) “period”. For example “it follows, therefore, that Empiricism is false.

“simpliciter” meaning “false without further qualification”, “simply false”.
PART II

LOGICAL LITERACY
(OR EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT LOGIC
BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK)
Students faced with the prospect of doing a Philosophy course for the first time are naturally
inclined to raise the question: what is Philosophy? What is it about? What (if anything) is one
supposed to learn from it? It is notoriously difficult, however, to give a definition of Philosophy
which is both informative and uncontroversial. The best thing to do, therefore, is to read one of
the many introductory books which are available. (I particularly recommend Thomas Nagel’s
What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy.)

But, however difficult it might be to provide a satisfactory definition of Philosophy, there is at
least one point on which everyone will agree: the study of Philosophy is, in large part, the study
of arguments. Philosophers don’t simply state their views on the existence of God (let’s say) or
on the relation of Mind to Matter; each of them tries to persuade us that his, or her, view is, in
fact, true (or preferable, at any rate, to the available alternatives) by putting forward appropriate
arguments. It is up to us, then, to evaluate such arguments, and to decide, for ourselves, whether
they carry conviction.

Now, of course, everyone engages in (more or less serious) arguments from time to time
(remember the Monty Python sketch in which Michael Palin is willing even to pay money in
order to engage in an argument); and every academic discipline makes progress by way of
argument and counter-argument. The fact remains, however, that the study of Philosophy -- in
constrast to the study of Literature, say, or the study of History -- generally calls for a more
explicit, more refined, appreciation of the ways in which arguments work; this is because
philosophical arguments tend, in the nature of the case, to be rather abstract and difficult to
follow, and they often stand (or fall) on fairly subtle points of logic. (Those of you who are
about to study Descartes’ Meditations will soon see, for yourselves, what I mean.)

All of which brings me to the purpose of this paper. What I propose to do, in the sections that
follow, is to show you a relatively simple way of representing the logical structure of a given
argument -- the basic nuts and bolts of Logical Theory.

ARGUMENTS: PREMISSES AND CONCLUSIONS

A preliminary point: sometimes the term ‘argument’ is used, in colloquial English, to mean
little more than ‘altercation’, or ‘verbal dispute’ or ‘slanging-match’: e.g. ‘I have just had a
heated argument with the idiot who crashed into our fence’. We are exclusively concerned, here,
with arguments in the sense in which one might say, for example, ‘the arguments put forward by
the counsel for the defence were far more persuasive than those put forward by the prosecution;
so I came to be convinced that the accused was, in fact, innocent’.
Here is a well-worn example of an argument. (The great Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322
BC) -- who may be said to have initiated the study of Logic as a discipline in its own right --
originally used this argument to illustrate a certain form of syllogism [see below].)

(A1) (1) All men are mortal
(2) Socrates is a man
Therefore: (3) Socrates is mortal.

The first two propositions are called the premisses of the argument and the third proposition is
called the conclusion of the argument.

Note that the terms ‘premiss’ and ‘conclusion’ serve to mark a certain sort of relation; thus a
proposition does not count as a ‘premiss’ (or as a ‘conclusion’) just by itself -- but only in
relation to some other proposition.

The relation of premiss-to-conclusion is, typically, indicated by the term ‘therefore’ (as in the
example above) or by one of its many equivalents -- ‘so’, ‘thus’, ‘hence’, ‘consequently’, etc.

The relation of conclusion-to-premiss, on the other hand, is indicated by the terms ‘for’, ‘since’,
‘because’, etc. For example: ‘Socrates is mortal; for he is a man, and all men are mortal’.

Trading on our intuitive conception of the proper relationship between premiss and conclusion,
we may define the general term ‘argument’ more precisely as follows.

An argument is a series of propositions each of which is related either as a premiss or as a
conclusion to one (or more) of the others.

An argument (such as the one above) which contains just two premisses leading to a single
conclusion is known as a syllogism.

THE LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ARGUMENTS

Now, the arguments which we actually encounter (whether in everyday situations or in academic
discussions) are rarely set out systematically, with premisses and conclusions clearly identified.
They are usually expressed rather more loosely, with conclusions preceding premisses, perhaps,
or with some premisses or conclusions left unstated altogether and needing to be understood
from the context.

It is clear, however, that, before one can begin to evaluate any particular argument (or series of
arguments), one needs to identify what the argument (or arguments) actually are. What, exactly,
is the proponent of the argument trying to prove? And how, exactly, is he (or she) trying to
prove it? What conclusions, in other words, is one supposed to draw? And what are the
premisses from which one is supposed to draw the relevant conclusion(s)? One needs, in short,
to appreciate the logical structure of the argument in question.
There is, fortunately, a relatively simple way of indicating the logical structure of particular
arguments -- which I shall attempt, now, to explain. (The system in question was originally
devised by an American philosopher called Monroe C. Beardsley, and developed by Stephen N.
Thomas and Michael Scriven. I follow the version of it promoted by the American logician
Irving M. Copi in his Introduction to Logic (currently in its 9th edition); this, incidentally, is the
text-book which I used in the Part II Logic course (PL503).

Suppose, then, that you are presented with a piece of writing which contains one or more
arguments, and that you want to make clear the logical structure of the argument(s) in question.

The first thing to do is to go through the passage bracketing off each of the propositions which
serve either as premisses or conclusions. (Remember that a proposition which serves as the
conclusion of one argument may well serve as the premiss of another.)

Next, number each of these propositions in turn. They may be represented, from now on, by
their appropriate numbers written in a circle as follows:

1 2 3
, , ……

Thus, given the simple argument:

(i) the sun has always risen in the past; so it will probably rise tomorrow

you should deal with it, initially, as follows:

1 2

[ ] [
(i) the sun has always risen in the past; so it will probably rise tomorrow ]
Now, the symbol for indicating the relation of premiss:conclusion is an arrow leading from the
premiss to the conclusion.

So the argument in question may be represented by the following diagram:

1

2
<<Note that the term ‘so’ is not to be treated as a part of the conclusion; it serves, rather, to
indicate the logical relation between the two propositions (as was pointed out in the previous
section).>>

Let’s return, for a moment, to our original example:

(ii) all men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore: Socrates is mortal.

We can easily recognise, intuitively, that the premisses of this argument logically imply the
conclusion. (So long as the premisses are true, it follows, necessarily, that the conclusion must
be true as well.) The point which I want to bring out, for my present purpose, is simply this;
while both of the premisses jointly imply the conclusion, each of them, taken by itself, does not.
Thus, the proposition that all men are mortal helps to sustain the conclusion that Socrates is a
man. And, by the same token, the proposition that Socrates is a man helps to sustain the
conclusion that Socrates is mortal only because it is given, in addition, that all men are mortal.

When two (or more) premisses jointly imply their conclusion (as in this case), we indicate this,
diagrammatically, by bracketing them together. So we deal with this particular arguments as
follows:

1 2 3

(ii) [all men are mortal;] [Socrates is a man;] therefore: [Socrates is mortal. ]

1 2

3

Contrast this with the following argument, in which each of the premisses supports the
conclusion independently of the other.
1 2

(iii) [Smoking is a terrible habit;] [not only is it bad for your health] --
3
[it’s ruinously expensive as well. ]
2 3

1

Sometimes, as I mentioned before, a premiss or even the conclusion of an argument may be left
unstated, needing to be understood from the context. In such cases the unstated proposition
should be formulated explicitly, and duly assigned a number. It may then be represented by that
number written in a broken circle. Here are a couple of examples:

1

(iv) [ ]
I am sorry, Sunbeam. If you haven’t got a ticket, you’re not allowed in and

2
1 2
[ you haven’t got a ticket. ]
3 = ‘you are not allowed in’.
3

1 2

(v) [ ] [
I am sorry, Sunbeam. You haven’t got a ticket; so you’re not allowed in. ]
= ‘if you haven’t got a ticket,
you’re not allowed in’ 1 3

2
The arguments considered so far have been relatively simple -- with one or more premisses
leading to a single conclusion. The principal strength of this system is that it enables one to
represent more complex arguments as well -- arguments which contain more than one
conclusion, or arguments which consist in a chain of simpler arguments with the conclusion of
one serving as a premiss for another. Here are two examples of complex arguments:

1
(vi) [Supernovas (exploding stars) all seem to give off about the same amount of light at
2 3
peak brightness.] [If they are dim, they are far away;] [ if bright , they are nearer by
4
a predictable degree.] Thus, [They are considered reliable indicators of distance.]

1

2 3

4
1

(vii) [Nuclear warheads are not weapons, as one normally understands the term.]
2 3
[No nation can use them to achieve a political end,] since [if its bluff were called,

it would be left with the option of capitulating or committing national suicide.]
4 5
[Nuclear weapons are unusable to halt a conventional attack,] since [their use

would almost certainly lead to an all-out nuclear exchange and the destruction of
6
all that we were trying to protect.] [Nuclear weapons are useful only in a

cancelling-out process - to deter the other side from using them.]

3 5

2 4

6

1

Here are some more arguments; you might care to try your hand at diagramming them
in the way suggested. (All these exercises are borrowed from Copi, by the way.)

(viii) A non-nuclear world can never be restored. Any moderately industrialised
country can make nuclear weapons, and any rich country can buy them. Thus, the
West will always need some nuclear weapons against the chance that a strong
hostile power or a state under the control of an irrational leader will obtain them.

(ix) It is impossible to be specific about the future of any branch of science since there
is no way of forecasting unexpected and surprising discoveries. (If there were,
they wouldn’t be unexpected and surprising, and they could be made without
delay.)
(x) There is no possibility, it would seem, of controverting the committed Marxist.
His Marxism makes him invulnerable to argument since, among other things, it
enables him to assume that those who disagree with him do so because they are,
as the editors write, spokesmen for ‘narrow political interests and biases’.

(xi) When drug dealers kill in the course of their business, they often kill other drug
dealers. If the bill (allowing the death penalty for drug dealers who kill in the
course of their business) works as it is supposed to, drug dealers will be deterred
from killing other drug dealers. With less of a threat from other dealers, we can
expect more people to engage in drug dealing and the peddling of drugs to rise.

(xii) Energy in its various forms, from heat to gasoline, plays a larger part in the
budgets of poor families than well-to-do families. This is because energy is
largely used for essentials. For families in the lowest ten percent of households,
energy accounts for a full third of household expenditures, whereas for
households in the top ten percent, it absorbs only five percent of household
expenses. Therefore, a jump in energy costs will penalise the poor much more
severely than the rich.

(xiii) The free-market remedy for inflation is mass unemployment. This remedy
imposes severe economic, social and political costs. It is also cruelly inequitable,
since it places the burden of the struggle against inflation on those least able to
bear it. It is also unavailing, since mass unemployment will inevitably create a
demand for reflation, and with reflation prices and interest rates will shoot up
again.

LOGICAL IMPLICATION AND VALIDITY

Let us return - just one more time - to our original example.

(A1) (1) All men are mortal
(2) Socrates is a man
Therefore: (3) Socrates is mortal

This argument may be described as a ‘valid’ argument in the sense that its premisses
logically imply its conclusion.

But what does it mean, more precisely, to say that the premisses of this argument
‘logically imply’ the conclusion?

The answer to this question turns on the complementary concepts of ‘logical necessity’
and ‘logical possibility’.
<< I call these ‘complementary’ concepts in the sense that either might be defined in
terms of the other. Thus, the sentence ‘it is logically necessary that p’ may be defined as
equivalent to ‘it is not logically possible that it is not the case that p. Or, alternatively,
the sentence ‘it is logically possible that p’ may be defined as equivalent to ‘it is not
logically necessary that it is not the case that p.’. The general concepts of possibility and
necessity - what philosophers call ‘modal’ concepts - may be regarded as two sides of the
same coin.

In case you are puzzled (as you may well be) by my use of the letter ‘p’ in the last
paragraph - I ought to explain that philosophers often use the lower-case letters ‘p’, ’q’,
’r’, etc. to stand for some unspecified proposition. Thus, ‘it is logically necessary that p’
should be taken as equivalent, in effect, to ‘it is logically necessary that a certain
proposition (never mind which) is true’, or ‘it is logically necessary that such and such is
the case’. When used in this way, the letters ‘p’, ’q’, ’r’, etc. are known as
‘propositional variables’.>>

To return to the argument under discussion:suppose that someone were to make the
following remark.’ I admit that (1) all men are mortal and that (2) Socrates is a man, but I
still deny that (3) Socrates is mortal’. Such a remark would surely strike one as very odd.
And it becomes clear, on reflection, that the reason why such a remark would strike one
as very odd is, simply, this: to admit that (1) all men are mortal and that (2) Socrates is
mortal just is, implicitly, to admit that (3) Socrates is mortal; so, to admit (1) and (2)
while denying (3) is, in effect, to say something self-contradictory.

We noted, in the previous section, that the premisses of this argument jointly imply the
conclusion. We can now express this point a bit more precisely. Thus, it would not be
self-contradictory to assert (1) while denying (3); for the truth of (1) would be
compatible with the falsity of (3) provided only that Socrates were not a man. Nor would
it be self-contradictory to assert (2) while denying (3);for the truth of (2) would be
compatible with the falsity of (3) provided only that not all men were mortal. It is the
conjunction of (1) and (2) that is incompatible with the falsity of (3).

Trading, now, on our intuitive understanding of what it is for a proposition to be self-
contradictory, we may define the notions of ‘logical necessity’ and ‘logical possibility’ as
follows.

A proposition may be said to be ‘logically necessary’ if and only if it would be self-
contradictory to deny it.

More formally: It is ‘logically necessary’ that p iff (by definition) the negation of p is
self-contradictory.

<<‘iff’ isn’t a misprint, by the way; ‘iff’ is often used as shorthand for ‘if and only if’.

The ‘negation’ of a certain proposition is, simply, the proposition which one asserts when
one denies it. Thus the negation of the proposition that Socrates is mortal is the
proposition that it is not the case that Socrates is mortal;more formally:the negation of the
proposition that p is the proposition that not -p.>>
On the other hand, a proposition may be said to be ‘logically possible’ iff it is not self-
contradictory; while a proposition may be said to be ‘logically impossible’ iff it is self-
contradictory.

<< Note that the expressions ‘logically possible’ and ‘logically impossible’, etc. are
often applied, by a natural extension, to states of affairs (situations, events , occurrences,
etc.) as well as to propositions; thus, to say that a certain state of affairs is logically
possible is to say that it may be specified without self-contradiction.>>

We are in a position, now, to give a concise answer to the question posed above. To say
that a certain proposition, p, ‘logically implies’ a certain proposition, q, is simply to say
that it is logically necessary that if p is true, then q is true as well.

More formally: p ‘logically implies’ q iff (by definition) it is logically necessary that if p
then q.

Note, here, that the term ‘entail’ is commonly used, by contemporary philosophers, as the
equivalent of ‘logically imply’ (as explained above.)

Note, also, that the term ‘analytic’ is commonly used as the - virtual - equivalent of
‘logically necessary’ (as explained above). An alternative definition is that a proposition
counts as ‘analytic’ if its truth is determined solely by the meanings of the terms in
which it is expressed. Thus - to take the standard example - the proposition that all
bachelors are unmarried men counts as ‘analytic’ because its truth follows from the fact
that the term ‘bachelor’ may be defined - analysed - as equivalent to the expression
‘unmarried man’. It is clear enough, nevertheless, that if a proposition is true merely in
virtue of its meaning then it would be be self-contradictory to deny it; so the two
definitions would seem to amount to the same thing.

The distinction between ‘analytic’ and ‘synthetic’ judgments was, in fact, introduced by
the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804); but he seems to have used
the term ‘analytic’ in a somewhat narrower sense than the common contemporary one.
(See John Hospers’ ‘An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd edition, Chapter 3,
for further discussion of these issues.)

TRUTH vs VALIDITY

A point which deserves to be emphasised, here, is this. To say that a certain argument is
valid is not to say that its premisses are true; it is only to say that if its premisses are true
then the conclusion must, logically, be true as well.
The distinction between truth and validity is of great importance in philosophical
criticism but it is easily overlooked. Here are two examples which may help, I hope, to
throw it into sharp relief.

(A2) (1) All Australians are at least six feet tall.
(2) Dudley Moore is an Australian.
Therefore: (3) Dudley Moore is at least six feet tall.

All of these propositions (both of the premisses and the conclusion) are false but the
argument is nonetheless valid. For, clearly, if the premisses were true then, necessarily,
the conclusion would be true as well.

(A3) (1) All men are mortal.
(2) The Prime Minister of Australia is mortal.
Therefore: (3) The Prime Minister of Australia is a man.

All three propositions are, in this case, true, but the argument is invalid.

To see why, you need only to consider the (logical) possibility that the Prime Minister of
Australia might have been a woman. (Such things have happened, after all.) In this case
the premisses would have been true and the conclusion false. It would not be self-
contradictory, therefore, to assert the premisses while denying the conclusion; someone
who did this would be making a factual error but not a logical one.

The upshot of all this is that there are two distinct ways in which an argument may be
open to criticism.Thus one might, on some occasions, want to say: ‘This argument fails to
persuade me because it is invalid; even if the premisses are true, the conclusion doesn’t
follow.’ And one might, on some other occasions, want to say: ‘This argument fails to
persuade me because one of its premisses is false; so even though the argument is valid, I
am not obliged to accept the conclusion’. (Of course an argument might be invalid and
have false premisses as well; philosophy students should take pains to avoid advancing
any such argument.)

Two more logical expressions.

Sometimes, when one wants to prove that a certain proposition is false, one proceeds by
assuming (for the sake of the argument) that the proposition is true, and then deriving a
conclusion which contradicts a proposition which is already accepted as true. For
example: ‘Let’s suppose that Smith is the murderer; it follows, then, that he would have
had blood on his overcoat when he was arrested. But he did not, in fact, have any blood
on his overcoat, Therefore: Smith is not the murderer’. An argument of this kind is
called a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ (or, simply, a ‘reductio’).

If an argument is valid and contains no false premisses, then it is described as ‘SOUND’.
(Always use sound arguments, and you’ll never go wrong!)
DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS vs INDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS

Consider the following arguments.

(i) (1) All ravens that have so far been observed have been black.
Therefore (in all probabilty):
(2) All ravens are black.

(ii) (1) All ravens that have so far been observed have been black.
Therefore (in all probabilty):
(2) The next raven to be observed will turn out to be black.
(iii) (1) The sun has always risen in the past.
Therefore (in all probability):
(2) The sun will rise tomorrow.

The first thing to note about these arguments is that they are not valid in the sense defined
above. It is not, strictly, self-contradictory to assert the premiss and deny the conclusion
(however unreasonable it may seem to do so).

The second thing to note is that all of us use arguments of this sort all the time. Indeed,
it becomes clear, on reflection, that we should find life pretty tricky if we were not
prepared to rely on such arguments. Even the claims of the Natural Scientists seem to
depend, in the final analysis, upon this sort of extrapolation from the observed to the
unobserved.

But the question arises; what rational justification have we for moving from premiss to
conclusion? We have noted, already, that the premiss of such an argument doesn’t
logically imply the conclusion. So we can’t say that we are obliged to infer the
conclusion on pain of self- contradiction. So why are we, generally, so willing to accept
the conclusions of such arguments?

The problem posed by this question is known as ‘The Problem of Induction’. It was
originally identified by the great Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), and it
remains a matter of philosophical controversy. (The term ‘induction’ was not, however,
used by Hume himself.) It is not my purpose, now, to go into this debate, but only to
mark a certain distinction, namely the distinction between ‘deduction’ (‘deductive’
arguments, ‘deductive inference’) on the one hand and ‘induction’ (‘inductive
arguments’, ‘inductive inference’, ‘inductive extrapolation’) on the other.

The concept of validity, as explained above, is specifically associated with the concept of
deduction. A valid argument, that is to say, is an argument in which one may properly
deduce the conclusion from the premisses. The term ‘deduce’ comes from the Latin
‘deducere’, which has the sense ‘to draw out from’; the idea is that in ‘deducing’ a
conclusion, something one is merely extracting - rendering explicit - something which is
already given, albeit implicitly, in the premisses.
In an inductive argument, on the other hand, one does not merely elicit something that is
already given; one extrapolates, rather, from what is given to what has not been given -
i.e. from the observed to the unobserved (or from the observed to the not-yet-observed).