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Can the Laws of Form Represent Syllogisms?

Mingers, John (2014) Can the Laws of Form Represent Syllogisms? Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 21 (4). pp. 9-30. ISSN 0907 0877. E-ISSN 1756-6177. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)

Abstract

The Laws of Form was created to represent propositional logic and Boolean algebra. But Spencer Brown (and later commentators) also claimed that it could represent Aristotelian syllogistic logic although, as he showed in his book, at least one invalid syllogism appeared to be valid. This paper explores the extent to which the Laws of Form can correctly deal with all syllogisms. There are in fact 256 possible syllogisms and only fifteen of them are uncontroversially valid (a further nine are valid if certain existence assumptions are made). Using truth tables implemented in a spread sheet, all 256 syllogisms were evaluated and it was discovered that, in fact, 83 invalid syllogisms appear to be valid when simply represented in Laws of Form notation. (The issue about the application of Spencer Brown’s Interpretative Theorem 2 will be explored in the paper). This is clearly a significant number. Further investigation show that the problem might be caused by the way that “some/some not” propositions are conventionally represented and a variety of alternative are explored, some related to free logic. One particular interpretation reduces the number of wrongly categorised syllogisms to only seventeen and, surprisingly, fifteen of the 17 are mirror images of the fifteen valid ones.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Laws of form, syllogisms, logic
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Business School > Management Science
Depositing User: John Mingers
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2016 06:34 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:55 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/53906 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mingers, John: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4102-4696.
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