Meaning of Syllogism

What is Syllogism:

The deductive reasoning that consists of two premises (major and minor) is known as a syllogism, from which a conclusion is reached.

The syllogism is an argument made up of three propositions, the conclusion being contained in one of the first two and showing the other that the same conclusion is contained there.

The syllogism is taken as a deductive reasoning, since a new one is inferred from two judgments. In this sense, the "major premise" is the one that serves as a starting point, and is the most general; for its part, the "minor premise" serves as an intermediary and is less general, and the conclusion of the reasoning follows from these two.

Based on the above information, the most classic example of the syllogism is:

  • All men are mortal. (Major premise)
  • Pedro is a man. (Minor premise)
  • Then Pedro is mortal. (Conclution)

According to the Greek philosopher and thinker Aristotle, reasoning is a chain of judgments, which, starting from one premise, discover others. Aristotle relies on deductive and inductive reasoning, but he also indicates that the key to deducing the particular is from the general. In conclusion, Aristotelian judgments are the union of the subject and the predicate.

On the other hand, with respect to the syllogism, a series of rules must be taken into account for its validity, such as:

  • A syllogism contains three propositions.
  • In two negative premises nothing can be concluded.
  • On two positive premises, a negative conclusion cannot be drawn.
  • If a premise is negative, the conclusion is negative, and vice versa.
  • No conclusion is drawn from two particular premises.
  • The middle ground cannot enter the conclusion.

The mode of syllogism results from the arrangement of the premises according to their quality (affirmative or negative) and quantity (general or particular). Each of the premises can be universal affirmative (A), universal negative (E), particular affirmative (I) or particular negative (O).

Regarding the legal context, the syllogism is a tool that supports the interpretation of the norm, which allows to adapt the norm with respect to the facts to guarantee the solidity of the jurist's argument, as well as his position in the judicial procedure.

Etymologically, syllogism is of Latin origin "syllogismus", and this in turn from a Greek word.

On the other hand, the syllogistic term is an adjective relative to the syllogism or contains a syllogism.

Types of syllogism

The main types of syllogism are:

Categorical syllogism is one in which the major premise affirms or denies. This means, A is part of C, and B is part of C, for example:

All living things breathe. An animal is a living being. An animal breathes.

Hypothetical syllogism, also called conditional, one in which the major premise presents an alternative, and the minor one affirms or denies one of the alternatives, for example:

If you don't do your homework, you won't be successful. If he doesn't do well in the matter, then he doesn't pass the year. So if you don't do your homework, you won't make it through the year.

Disjunctive syllogism, is characterized because it does not affirm that the premises are true, but only one of them, but not simultaneously, for example:

This afternoon they will visit their uncles or cousins. The visit is not to the uncles. Then the visit is to the cousins.

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