Syllogisms and Weakness

If I remember correctly, there is philosophical concept called a syllogism. I think it goes something like this . . . If 'A' equals 'B', and 'B' equals 'C', then 'A' equals 'C'. Seems simple enough.

But, again if my brain isn't suffering from terminal fogginess, I believe there is a refinement to the concept called categorical syllogism which identifies the potential fallacy in the use of syllogistic arguments . . . If a cat is an animal, and a person isn't a cat, then a person isn't an animal. Since humans are a form of animal, it is evident that sloppy categorical syllogisms can lead to faulty logic.

So what? you're thinking. Syllogistic arguments are all around us; they are favoured by people who want to beat you back in a discussion rather than engage in what William Isaacs calls "dialogue" or "the art of thinking together in relationship". The form of argument is often used as a means to berate someone, since it is assumed that if you don't accept the clearheadedness of the logic -- A=B;B=C;A=C -- then you must be (to quote Mister Spock) "illogical". In fact, the philosophical fallacy belongs to those who think there is an inexorable logic to syllogism. What is most upsetting about the use of this fallacious argumentation is that it prevents dialogue and real conversation and undermines collegiality.

I don't see it in the list of 171 errors of reasoning in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but it should be there.


Magnum and Stein's - And Dreadful Duck