The Particular Affirmative
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.
- Some man is mortal.
- There is a woman who is a politician.
- At least one computer runs Microsoft products.
- There is a fun Web site.
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
The Particular Negative
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.
- Some fictional creatures are not mortal.
- Some Web sites are not fun.
- Some philosophers don't make sense.
- Some computers are not expensive.
- For example, when you think of the negative particular statement "Some
woman is not beautiful." it seems equivalent to the affirmative
particular statement "Some woman is homely." On further examination, we
see that this is only true if every woman is either beautiful or homely.
- Similarly to the particular affirmative, the particular negative can
be proven by finding a single example. For instance, if we want to prove
that some politician is corrupt, all we have to do is find one corrupt
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
back to the History of Logic homepage.
Jason Corley --