Particular Propositions

The Particular Affirmative

EXAMPLES:
  1. Some man is mortal.
  2. There is a woman who is a politician.
  3. At least one computer runs Microsoft products.
  4. There is a fun Web site.
The particular affirmative states that there is at least one member of one class that is a member of a second. It doesn't imply that all members of one class are members of the second.

These sentences sound strange: a more natural language might say that "This Web site is fun." or "Socrates is mortal." However, at this stage of the development of our logical language, we want to be able to distinguish between saying that there is at least one fun Web site and that a specific Web site is fun. While it is true that if this Web site is fun then there is at least one Web site that is fun, it doesn't necessarily follow that if there is at least one Web site that is fun, that this one is. You might think this Web site was lame and Yahoo was fun, for instance.

This takes us naturally to the first thing to remember about the particular affirmative:

The Particular Negative

EXAMPLES:
  1. Some fictional creatures are not mortal.
  2. Some Web sites are not fun.
  3. Some philosophers don't make sense.
  4. Some computers are not expensive.
The connection between the particular affirmative and negative is easy to see. In fact, in our natural language, we often don't make much of a distinction between the two: modern logic doesn't either.


I want to go back to the first Aristotle stuff.

I want to check out the universal statements.

I want to find out how it fits together to form a syllogism.

Take me back to the History of Logic homepage.


Jason Corley -- corleyj@cobweb.scarymonsters.net