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Syllogisms in Ordinary Language:

Syllogistic Arguments and Reduction of the


Number of Terms to Three (3)

Marijuana is not a barbiturate.


Marijuana is not a drug.
5. All men are mortal.

I. INTRODUCTION
To "translate" ordinary-language arguments
into the forms studied by categorical logic
and vice-versa, we may need only to rearrange the propositions of the argument in
order to translate it into a standard-form
categorical syllogism.
Example:
From
"Some birds are geese, so some birds
are not felines, since no geese are
felines"
To
No geese are felines.
Some birds are geese.
Therefore, some birds are not felines.
However, few methods are presented to
serve as guides.
II. SYLLOGISTIC ARGUMENTS
An argument where the conclusion of which
is supported by two premises.
A typical form is "All A is C; all B is A;
therefore all B is C.
Any argument that is either a standardform categorical syllogism or can be
reformulated
as
standard
form
categorical syllogism
Examples:

Socrates is a man.
Socrates is mortal.

We might not agree that the premises are


true, but if we accept these premises, the
conclusion does logically follow.
III. REDUCING THE NUMBER OF TERMS
TO THREE
The process of reformulating a syllogistic
argument as a standard-form categorical
syllogism is called translation or reduction
of the number of terms to three.
While two different tests were presented to
distinguish valid from invalid categorical
syllogisms in the previous chapter such tests
as there are applicable on in categorical
syllogisms that are in standard form.
An ordinary argument may deal with more
than three terms, but it may still be possible
to restate it as a categorical syllogism thus
we reduce the terms through the following
methods:
1. Eliminating synonyms.
No wealthy persons are vagrants.

1. All human societies are doomed to deteriorate

All lawyers are rich people.

over time.

Therefore

no

attorneys

are

America is a human society.

tramps.

America is doomed to deteriorate over time.

We should eliminate the synonymous terms

2. No philosophers are evil.

occurring in it. When done, the argument

All Greeks are philosophers.

translates into

No Greeks are evil.


3. All humans are selfish.
Confucius is a human.
Confucius is selfish.
4. All barbiturates are drugs.

No wealthy persons are vagrants.


All lawyers are wealthy persons.
Therefore
vagrants.

no

lawyers

are

In this standard form, the argument is easily

Therefore all voters are residents.

seen to be valid. However, sometimes the

requiring the use of all three types of

simple elimination of synonyms will not

immediate inference. Converting and then

suffice.

obverting the first premise and taking

All mammals are warm-blooded


animals.
No

the

contrapositive

of

the

second

premise yields:
lizards

are

warm-blooded

All citizens are residents.

animals.

All voters are citizens.

Therefore

all

lizards

are

Therefore all voters are residents.

nonmammals.

Which

Because it has four terms, it is not in

syllogism.

standard-form

categorical

syllogism.

is

standard-form

categorical

To

reduce the number of its terms to three,


which is easily accomplished by simply
obverting conclusion.
All

mammals

IV.
are

warm-blooded

animals.

INTRODUCTION

CATEGORICAL

TO

TRANSLATING

PROPOSITIONS

INTO

STANDARD FORM

No lizards are warm-blooded animals.

The somewhat unnatural A, E, I, AND O forms

Therefore no lizards are mammals.

are not the only ones in which categorical


propositions

may

be

expressed.

Many

syllogistic arguments contain nonstandard2.

Syllogistic

arguments

containing

four

form propositions be translated into standard

terms can be reduced to standard form if one

form. To reduce these arguments to standard

of its four terms is the complement of the

form requires that their propositions be

two others. These reductions are all effected

translated into standard form. We have a

by means of valid immediate inferences:

number of conventional techniques that are

conversion, obversion, and contraposition.

often used more regarded as guides rather

Conversion, where the subject and predicate terms are


interchanged.

than rules. Nine methods of dealing with

Obversion changes the quality (that is the affirmativity


or negativity) of the statement and the predicate
term; and

described in the next section.

Contraposition, that a conditional statement is logically


equivalent to its contrapositive. The contrapositive of the
statement has its antecedent and consequent.

Example:

nonstandard-form
The

four

propositions
kinds

of

will

categorical

proposition have been given names for


convenience:

A: Universal Affirmative
E: Universal Negative

No non-residents are citizens.


All noncitizens are non-voters.

be

I:

Particular Affirmative

O: Particular Negative