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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA POSTERIORA Book 1 Part 17

Attributes not atomically connected or disconnected

1. In the case of attributes not atomically connected with or disconnected from their subjects, (a) (i) as long as the false conclusion is inferred through the 'appropriate' middle, only the major and not both premisses can be false. By 'appropriate middle' I mean the middle term through which the contradictory - i.e. the true-conclusion is inferrible. Thus, let A be attributable to B through a middle term C: then, since to produce a conclusion the premiss C-B must be taken affirmatively, it is clear that this premiss must always be true, for its quality is not changed. But the major A-C is false, for it is by a change in the quality of A-C that the conclusion becomes its contradictory - i.e. true. Similarly (ii) if the middle is taken from another series of predication; e.g. suppose D to be not only contained within A as a part within its whole but also predicable of all B. Then the premiss D-B must remain unchanged, but the quality of A-D must be changed; so that D-B is always true, A-D always false. Such error is practically identical with that which is inferred through the 'appropriate' middle. On the other hand, (b) if the conclusion is not inferred through the 'appropriate' middle - (i) when the middle is subordinate to A but is predicable of no B, both premisses must be false, because if there is to be a conclusion both must be posited as asserting the contrary of what is actually the fact, and so posited both become false: e.g. suppose that actually all D is A but no B is D; then if these premisses are changed in quality, a conclusion will follow and both of the new premisses will be false. When, however, (ii) the middle D is not subordinate to A, A-D will be true, D-B false - A-D true because A was not subordinate to D, D-B false because if it had been true, the conclusion too would have been true; but it is ex hypothesi false.

2. When the erroneous inference is in the second figure, both premisses cannot be entirely false; since if B is subordinate to A, there can be no middle predicable of all of one extreme and of none of the other, as was stated before. One premiss, however, may be false, and it may be either of them. Thus, if C is actually an attribute of both A and B, but is assumed to be an attribute of A only and not of B, C-A will be true, C-B false: or again if C be assumed to be attributable to B but to no A, C-B will be true, C-A false.

3. We have stated when and through what kinds of premisses error will result in cases where the erroneous conclusion is negative. If the conclusion is affirmative, (a) (i) it may be inferred through the 'appropriate' middle term. In this case both premisses cannot be false since, as we said before, C-B must remain unchanged if there is to be a conclusion, and consequently A-C, the quality of which is changed, will always be false. This is equally true if (ii) the middle is taken from another series of predication, as was stated to be the case also with regard to negative error; for D-B must remain unchanged, while the quality of A-D must be converted, and the type of error is the same as before.

4. (b) The middle may be inappropriate. Then (i) if D is subordinate to A, A-D will be true, but D-B false; since A may quite well be predicable of several terms no one of which can be subordinated to another. If, however, (ii) D is not subordinate to A, obviously A-D, since it is affirmed, will always be false, while D-B may be either true or false; for A may very well be an attribute of no D, whereas all B is D, e.g. no science is animal, all music is science. Equally well A may be an attribute of no D, and D of no B. It emerges, then, that if the middle term is not subordinate to the major, not only both premisses but either singly may be false.

5. Thus we have made it clear how many varieties of erroneous inference are liable to happen and through what kinds of premisses they occur, in the case both of immediate and of demonstrable truths.


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