Friday, December 21, 2007

Aristotle's practical syllogism

A syllogism is a three-term argument which consists of a major, a minor, and a conclusion. The major premise is supposed to assert some universal truth like ‘all men are mortals’. The minor premise states a particular truth like ‘Socrates is a man’. The conclusion of the syllogism is drawn from the major and the minor premises like ‘Socrates is mortal’. Aristotle thought that practical reasoning could be represented in the form of a syllogism. The major premise in a practical syllogism would invoke an ‘ought to’ kind of action and the minor premise would invoke a particular instance of that action. The conclusion would respectively be the action itself that the major premise invokes.

Major premise: “Friends ought to care for one another and shouldn’t remain indifferent towards each other's mistakes.”
Minor premise: “Anita, a good friend of mine, is making a huge mistake.”
Conclusion: “The agent takes action and talks to Anita about the situation.”

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