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The Beginnings of Formal Logic: Deduction in Aristotle’s Topics vs. Prior Analytics

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It is widely agreed that Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, but not the Topics, marks the beginning of formal logic. There is less agreement as to why this is so. What are the distinctive features in virtue of which Aristotle’s discussion of deductions (syllogismoi) qualifies as formal logic in the one treatise but not in the other? To answer this question, I argue that in the Prior Analytics—unlike in the Topics—Aristotle is concerned to make fully explicit all the premisses that are necessary to derive the conclusion in a given deduction.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, New York University5 Washington Place, New York, ny


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