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Aristotle on Circular Proof

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image of Phronesis

Abstract In Posterior Analytics 1.3, Aristotle advances three arguments against circular proof. The third argument relies on his discussion of circular proof in Prior Analytics 2.5. This is problematic because the two chapters seem to deal with two rather disparate conceptions of circular proof. In Posterior Analytics 1.3, Aristotle gives a purely propositional account of circular proof, whereas in Prior Analytics 2.5 he gives a more complex, syllogistic account. My aim is to show that these problems can be solved, and that Aristotle’s third argument in 1.3 is successful. I argue that both chapters are concerned with the same conception of circular proof, namely the propositional one. Contrary to what is often thought, the syllogistic conception provides an adequate analysis of the internal deductive structure of the propositional one. Aristotle achieves this by employing a kind of multiple-conclusion logic.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago Chicago, IL 60637 USA


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