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INFERENCE

3.2.1 The principle just set out is not, however, quite general enough to cover all cases.
For example, 'x = 2' entails 'x2 = 4'; but it is not natural to say that in the latter
expression nothing is said which is not said implicitly in the former; for the latter
contains the 'squared' symbol, and in order to understand 'x = 2' we do not have to
know anything about the meaning of this symbol. We have, therefore, to say that there
must be nothing said in the conclusion which is not said implicitly or explicitly in the
premisses, except what can be added solely on the strength of definitions of terms. This
qualification is important for the logic of imperatives; for, as I have already warned the
reader, there is one kind of imperative conclusion which can be entailed by a set of
purely indicative premisses. This is the so-called 'hypothetical' imperative. It must be
pointed out that not all imperatives containing an hypothetical clause are 'hypothetical'
in this sense. For example, the sentence 'If any statement is untrue, do not make it', is
not 'hypothetical' as the expression 'hypothetical imperative' is traditionally used. What
a 'hypothetical' imperative is, is best made clear by examples. The subject is so difficult
that I cannot deal with it very fully; but some explanation is necessary.
Consider the following sentence:
If you want to go to the largest grocer in Oxford, go to Grimbly Hughes.
This seems to follow from, and to say no more than:
Grimbly Hughes is the largest grocer in Oxford.
The first matter that requires elucidation is the status of the word 'want'. It does not
mean the same as 'be affected by a recognizable state of the feelings known as desire'. If
I were the superior of a religious order whose rule ordained the complete abnegation of
all desires, I could not say to a novice 'If you have a desire to go to the largest grocer in
Oxford, go to Grimbly Hughes', for this would be contrary to the rule. But I might very
well say 'If you want to go to the largest grocer in Oxford, go to Grimbly Hughes'; for
this would simply be intended to convey a piece of information that the largest grocer
is Grimbly Hughes. 'Want' is here a logical term, and stands, as we shall see, for an
imperative inside a subordinate clause. This is but one of the many puzzles generated
by treating sentences compounded with the word 'want'as if they were always
descriptive of mental states (1.3).
Now compare the following sentence :
If all mules are barren, then this animal is barren.
This is entailed by the sentence 'This animal is a mule'. We only have to know the
meanings of'aH' and the other words used in order to make the inference. We must
notice that this inference is valid because another simpler one is valid, namely:
All mules are barren.
This animal is a mule.
This animal is barren.