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# STRUCTURE OF A SYLLOGISM

A Categorical Syllogism is an argument consisting of exactly three categorical propositions (two premises and a conclusion) in which there appear a total of exactly three categorical terms, each of which is used exactly twice.

One of those terms must be used as the subject term of the conclusion of the syllogism, and we call it the minor term of the syllogism as a whole. The major term of the syllogism is whatever is employed as the predicate term of its conclusion. The third term in the syllogism doesn't occur in the conclusion at all, but must be employed in somewhere in each of its premises; hence, we call it the middle term.

Since one of the premises of the syllogism must be a categorical proposition that affirms some relation between its middle and major terms, we call that the major premise of the syllogism. The other premise, which links the middle and minor terms, we call the minor premise.

Consider, for example, the categorical syllogism: No felons are politicians. Some thieves are felons. Therefore, some thieves are not politicians.

Consider, for example, the categorical syllogism: No felons are politicians. Some thieves are felons. Therefore, some thieves are not politicians.

Clearly, some thieves are not politicians. is the conclusion of this syllogism.

Consider, for example, the categorical syllogism: No felons are politicians. Some thieves are felons. Therefore, some thieves are not politicians.

The major term of syllogism is politicians (the predicate term of its conclusion).

Consider, for example, the categorical syllogism: No felons are politicians. Some thieves are felons. Therefore, some thieves are not politicians.

So, No felons are politicians (the premise in which politicians appears) is its major premise

Consider, for example, the categorical syllogism: No felons are politicians. Some thieves are felons. Therefore, some thieves are not politicians.

Similarly, the minor term of the syllogism is thieves, and Some thieves are felons is its minor premise. felons is the middle term of the syllogism

STANDARD FORM

A categorical syllogism in standard form always begins with the premises, major first and then minor, and then finishes with the conclusion. Thus, the example above is already in standard form.

Although arguments in ordinary language may be offered in a different arrangement, it is never difficult to restate them in standard form.

Once we've identified the conclusion which is to be placed in the final position, whichever premise contains its predicate term must be the major premise that should be stated first.

Medieval logicians devised a simple way of labeling the various forms in which a categorical syllogism may occur by stating its mood and figure. The mood of a syllogism is simply a statement of which categorical propositions (A, E, I, or O) it comprises, listed in the order in which they appear in standard form.

Thus, a syllogism with a mood of OAO has an O proposition as its major premise, an A proposition as its minor premise, and another O proposition as its conclusion; and EIO syllogism has an E major premise, and I minor premise, and an O conclusion; etc.

Since there are four distinct versions of each syllogistic mood, however, we need to supplement this labeling system with a statement of the figure of each, which is solely determined by the position in which its middle term appears in the two premises:

The mood of a syllogism is determined by the types of categorical propositions it contains. A All S are P E No S are P I Some S are P O Some S are not P

Consider this example, to determine the mood, based on the types of categorical propositions it uses: Premise 1: All Law students are intelligent people A Premise 2: All intelligent people are sexy A Conclusion: Therefore, All Law students are sexy A Each categorical proposition in this categorical syllogism are of the form A, meaning the mood is of this argument is AAA. Lets look at some figures:

1.)

M S

P M

2.

P S

M l M

First syllogism, the middle term is the subject term of the major premise and the predicate term of the minor premise; Second syllogism, the middle term is the predicate term of both premises;

3.)

M l M

4.)
S M

/
S

Third Syllogism, the subject term of both premises; Fourth Syllogism, the middle term appears as the predicate term of the major premise and the subject term of the minor premise.

M P 1.) \ S M

P M 2. l S M

M P P M 3.) l 4.) / M S M S

Any categorical syllogism can be rearranged so that the major Premise appears first, the minor second, and the conclusion last. So, let's take our above example, switch the order of the premises so that we can have our predicate premise first, and we see that our AAA argument matches form 1:

M P 1.) \ S M

P M 2. l S M

M P P M 3.) l 4.) / M S M S

Premise 1: All intelligent people are sexy A MP Premise 2: All Law students are intelligent A SM Conclusion: Therefore, All Law students are sexy A ^ SP

So our argument's mood and figure is AAA-1. As we will soon see, AAA-1 is a valid argument form. So Law students are sexy. A note on reformatting arguments to fit the standard forms: Often, for the sake of good writing, arguments appear in differing order from this standard format, or only hint at a premise or conclusion. So a person wishing to examine the argument must first reformat the argument into a standard syllogism. There are two main types of non standard formats for arguments:

## THE FORMAL NATURE OF SYLLOGISTIC LOGIC

All told, there are exactly 256 distinct forms of categorical syllogism: four kinds of major premise multiplied by four formal kinds of minor premise multiplied by four kinds of conclusion multiplied by four relative positions of the middle term. Used together, mood and figure provide a unique way of describing the logical structure of each of them.

Once the task of forming a categorical syllogism in standard form is accomplished, validity of the form can be ascertained according to the following table. You don't need to work it out on your own, it's already been done for you: Of the 256 possible permutations of mood and figure (64 types of mood X 4 types of figure), only 15 of the possible forms are valid.

A All S are P E No S are P I Some S are P O Some S are not P Figure Figure Figure Figure 1: 2: 3: 4: AAA, EAE, AII, EIO EAE, AEE, EIO, AOO IAI, AII, OAL, EIO AEE, IAI, EIO

Interesting Fact: A valid syllogism is valid by virtue of its form alone. The content is immaterial. This means that if a given syllogism is valid, any other syllogism that uses the same form is also valid. So you can plug in an argument into a valid form, in order to ensure that you have a valid argument [Copi, I. M, Cohen. C., (2001), Introduction
to Logic, 11th Ed.]

Original Argument: All lawyers are liars, so all lawyers are immoral since all immoral are liars. P = Immoral (the predicate of the conclusion) S = Lawyers (the subject of the conclusion) M = Liars occurs in both premises, used to preserve truth across the premises to the conclusion.

Original Argument: All lawyers are liars, so all lawyers are immoral since all immoral are liars. The word "so" is a tip off that "all immoral people are liars" is the conclusion. It labels the preceding statement as a support for it, and since the last statement is prefaced by the word "since", it too is being labeled as a support for the statement "all lawyers are liars".

Original Argument: All lawyers are liars, so all lawyers are immoral since all immoral are liars. We can now isolate the term immoral', as the predicate of the conclusion, giving us our Major term. The subject of the conclusion gives us the minor term lawyers" and the middle term, used in both premises, to preserve truth, is liars".

Now the argument in standard form: All immoral (P) are liars (M) P M A All lawyers (S) are liars (M) S M E Therefore, all lawyers (S) are immoral (P) E This form however is figure number 2, specifically AAA-2

## Now the argument in standard form:

All immoral (P) are liars (M) PM All lawyers (S) are liars (M) S M Therefore, all lawyers (S) are immoral (P)

A E E

A quick check on the list tells us that AAA-2 does not appear on the lest as a valid form, in fact, as we will see, the form commits the specific formal fallacy of undistributed middle. So there is no need to struggle with your opponents argument any further. His argument is invalid. He has no justification for holding to his conclusion

## SIX RULES OF CATEGORICAL SYLLOGISMS

The first three rules have to do with the distribution of terms, and the last three have to do with the quality and quality of the propositions in the syllogisms. When any of these rules are broken, truth fails to be preserved across the premises to the conclusion, and a corresponding formal fallacy is committed. This leads to an invalid argument, and again, using the analogy of a road map, invalid arguments are dead ends - the truth is lost somewhere before the destination.

Before we cover rules 1, 2, and 3, let's review how the four types of categorical propositions distribute their terms.
In an A proposition, the S is distributed, the P is not In an E proposition, S and P are both distributed In an I proposition, S and P are both undistributed In an O proposition, S in undistributed, P is distributed

RULE 1 and The Fallacy of Four Terms A valid, standard form categorical syllogism must contain exactly three terms, each of which is used in the same grammatical sense throughout the argument. A categorical syllogism with four terms commits the fallacy of four terms. Example: Sometimes, it is not readily apparent that four terms are being used. One way a fourth term can be snuck in is through a fallacy of equivocation - a term with two possible meanings is used in two different ways. Here's an easy example:

RULE 1 and The Fallacy of Four Terms All rivers have banks All banks have money Therefore, all rivers have money Since the word "banks" is being used in two different senses, as the side of a river, and as a place where money is kept, this argument commits the informal fallacy of equivocation, and the formal fallacy of four terms.

RULE 2 and the Fallacy of The Undistributed Middle The middle term must be distributed in one of the premises, or the fallacy of the undistributed middle occurs. The middle term is what connects the major and the minor term. If the middle term is never distributed, then the major and minor terms might be related to different parts of the M class, thus giving no common ground to relate S and P.

RULE 2 and the Fallacy of The Undistributed Middle All P are M All S are M All S are P

## Figure Figure Figure Figure

1: 2: 3: 4:

AAA, EAE, AII, EIO EAE, AEE, EIO, AOO IAI, AII, OAL, EIO AEE, IAI, EIO

Here, the m is undistributed in both premises (appears in same position) AAA-2. A common error.

## RULE 3 and The Fallacy of Illicit Major and Illicit Minor

If a term in distributed in the conclusion, it must be distributed in the premise. When a term is distributed in the conclusion, (lets say that P is distributed),
then that term is saying something about every member of the P class. If that same term is not distributed in the major premise, then the major premise is saying something about only some members of the P class. Remember that the minor premise says nothing about the P class. Therefore, the conclusion contains information that is not contained in the premises, making the argument invalid.

## RULE 3 and The Fallacy of Illicit Major and Illicit Minor

Here P is distributed in the conclusion (E) but undistributed in the major Premise (A) this commits the fallacy of illicit major:
All m are P (A) All S are m (A) No S are P (E)

Here S is distributed in the conclusion (A) but undistributed in the minor Premise (E) this commits the fallacy of illicit minor: All P are M (A) All m are S (A) No S are P (E)

RULE 4 and The Fallacy of Exclusive Premises Two negative premises are not allowed. If the premises are both negative, then the relationship between S and P is denied. The conclusion cannot, therefore, say anything in a positive fashion. That information goes beyond what is contained in the premises. No P are M No S are M No S are P

RULE 5 And The Fallacy of Drawing an Affirmative Conclusion from a Negative Premise A negative premise requires a negative conclusion, and a negative conclusion requires at least one negative premise. Otherwise, you've committed the fallacy of drawing a negative conclusion from affirmative premises

RULE 5A and The Fallacy of Drawing an Affirmative Conclusion from a Negative Premise Example of Drawing an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise: No P are M Some S are M Some S are P The conclusion states that the S class is either wholly or partially contained in the P class. The only way that this can happen is if the S class is either partially or fully contained in the M class (remember, the middle term relates the two) and the M class fully contained in the P class. Negative statements cannot establish this relationship, so a valid conclusion cannot follow.

RULE 5B and The Fallacy of Drawing an Affirmative Conclusion from a Negative Premise The same holds true for a positive conclusion. It must have at least one positive premise. Drawing a negative conclusion from affirmative premises: All P are m All S are m No S are P

The conclusion asserts that the S class is separated in whole or in part from the P class. If both premises are affirmative, no separation can be established, only connections. Thus, a negative conclusion cannot follow from positive premises.

RULE 6 and The Existential Fallacy Are both premises universal? Then, the conclusion cannot be particular, otherwise, you commit the existential fallacy! Recall that Universal statements can be made about hypothetical entities that may not actually exist, while particular statements imply existence. Ergo deriving from All unicorns have horns' that This unicorn has a horn commits an

existential error.

## RULE 6 and The Existential Fallacy

Example:
All P are m All S are m Some S are P

However, these claims are considered valid from the Aristotelian standpoint. These six rules apply only to standard form categorical propositions. To examine other logical forms and their validity and invalidity, you will need to read the section on Propositional Logic.

## THE VENN DIAGRIAM: TECHNIQUE FOR TESTING SYLLOGISMS

The modern interpretation offers a more efficient method of evaluating the validity of categorical syllogisms. By combining the drawings of individual propositions, we can use Venn diagrams to assess the validity of categorical syllogisms by following a simple three-step procedure:

First draw three overlapping circles and label them to represent the major, minor, and middle terms of the syllogism. S P

Next, on this framework, draw the diagrams of both of the syllogism's premises.
Always begin with a universal proposition, no matter whether it is the major or the minor premise. Remember that in each case you will be using only two of the circles in each case; ignore the third circle by making sure that your drawing (shading or ) straddles it.

Finally, without drawing anything else, look for the drawing of the conclusion. If the syllogism is valid, then that drawing will already be done.

Since it perfectly models the relationships between classes that are at work in categorical logic, this procedure always provides a demonstration of the validity or invalidity of any categorical syllogism.

Consider, for example, how it could be applied, step by step, to an evaluation of a syllogism of the EIO-3mood and figure, No M are P. Some M are S. Therefore, Some S are not P.

## Second, we diagram each of the premises:

Since the major premise is a universal proposition, we may begin with it. The diagram for "No M are P" must shade in the entire area in which the M and P circles overlap. (Notice that we ignore the S circle by shading on both sides of it.)