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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Professor demonstrates Aristotle's logic

UB professor of philosophy Dr. John Corcoran hosted a presentation and discussion on his paper, Aristotle's Demonstrative Logic, this past Thursday.

Corcoran wrote the paper in a way that would be understandable to non-specialists so that the discussion could be open to all students. A mixed group of graduate students, professors and a few undergrads gathered to listen to, analyze and critique Corcoran's newest work

Corcoran began by defining the abstract of his paper, which delves into the importance of demonstrative logic and the study of demonstration as opposed to persuasion.

"Every demonstration produces or confirms knowledge of (the truth of) its conclusion for every person who comprehends the demonstration. Persuasion merely produces opinion," Corcoran said.

He emphasized a truth and consequence conception of demonstration, which includes premises, or truths, and demonstrates through logical steps that a conclusion is a consequence of its premises.

Corcoran covered three important characteristics of deduction. He explained deduction as the first cognitively neutral; meaning that the process one would use to draw a conclusion from things known to be true is similarly used to draw conclusions from things unknown to be true or false or from false bases.

Secondly, deduction is topic neutral; meaning the same process of deduction can be used to draw a conclusion from any premise, regardless of the subject matter.

Thirdly, deduction is non-empirical, meaning that you do not have to have any outside experience to be able to draw a conclusion from any given premise. Any additional information in the form of diagrams or other materials that may be used to influence deductions bear no relevance to, nor prevent, a purely logical deduction.

"Every deduction, and thus every demonstration, has a chain of reasoning that shows that the conclusion follows logically from the premises - thus that assertion of the premises is also a virtual assertion of the conclusion," Corcoran said.

According to Aristotle, any deduction not immediately evident is a prolonged argumentation chain of immediately evident steps that show that the final conclusion follows logically from its bases.

Professor Corcoran's work on Aristotle's demonstrative logic began in the early 1970s when he and colleague Timothy Smiley argued Aristotle's reputation as an original and intelligent logician. They established that Aristotle was concerned with a deduction process and they used mathematical logic to model Aristotle's logic, as well as discovered a natural deduction system.

Corcoran has also published several other works based on the work of Aristotle, some of which were published in the Journal of Symbolic Logic. His works include Deduction and Reduction (1983), Logical Form (1999) and Aristotle's Prior Analytics and Boole's Laws of Thought (2006).

Corcoran is one of the many speakers that have presented at the Buffalo Logic Colloquium and currently serves as its chairperson. He has been sharing his knowledge in the field of philosophy for several years.



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