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Law and logic is basically related through the term, legal reasoning. In this presentation, I would be discussing the basic steps of legal reasoning and the concept of syllogism as given by Aristotle.


All legal reasoning follows one path. No legal argument can be accepted or rejected without all of the following pieces 1) Issue - What specifically is being debated? 2) Rule - What legal rule governs this issue? 3) Facts - What are the facts relevant to this Rule? 4) Analysis - Apply the rule to the facts. 5) Conclusion - Having applied the rule to the facts, what's the outcome?


ARISTOTELIAN LAWS OF LOGIC Aristotle was the first to systematically

study and catalogue the rules of correct logical reasoning. His logic is important because it dominated all western thought, including scientific thought, until the 19th century CE; it also had enormous influence on the development of Jewish, Christian and Muslim philosophy. It is still influential today.

Aristotle believed that any logical argument could be reduced to a standard form, known as asyllogism. A syllogism is a sequence of three propositions: two premises and the conclusion. By varying the form of the proposition and the modifiers (such asall, no,and some), a few specific forms may be delimited. 4/15/12

To help us reason correctly, Aristotle invented the syllogism. A syllogism is a three-part reasoning process beginning with 2 premises and ending with 1 conclusion . Aristotle works mainly with categorical syllogisms which affirm or deny something. There are other types of syllogisms but these will not concern us here. The value of studying and learning to work with syllogisms is that we learn to break our ideas down into simple parts and by putting them into syllogistic form we can make sure we are developing a logical argument. Here is an example of a syllogism: (1) No reptiles have fur; 4/15/12 (2) All snakes are reptiles;

Four Types of Syllogisms

There are 4 types of syllogisms depending on if the first premise affirms or denies something, and how much it affirms or denies, i.e. all, some, or none. (1) All S are P (universal affirmation)** All men are mortal Called A (2) No S are P (universal negation) No men are birds Called E (3) Some S are P (particular affirmation) Some dogs chase cats Called I (4) Some S are not P (particular negation) Some dogs do not swim Called O 4/15/12

Example of a universal affirmative with a singular affirmative statement: (1) All educated people can read and write; (2) Sam is an educated man; [Sam is singular, i.e. one] (3) Therefore, Sam can read and write. Here is an E type syllogism, a universal negation : t he premise is a universal negative: 1) No members of the dog family have wings; 2) Wolves are members of the dog family; 3) Therefore, no wolves have wings.

a negative premise requires a negative conclusion. A syllogism cannot have 2 negative premises. If one premise is negative, 4/15/12 the conclusion must be negative.

Here is a I type syllogism: it is a particular affirmation : (1) Some vases are beautiful; (2) All vases are useful; (3) Therefore, some useful things are beautiful. the particular premise requires a particular conclusion. We cannot have two particular premises.

Here is an O type syllogism with a negative particular premise : 1) Some buildings are not tall; 2) All houses are buildings; 3) Therefore, some houses are not tall.

the negative conclusion requires a negative 4/15/12