All P is M; ————————-> All P is M;
Some S is not M: All S is P: / contradictory / / contradictory / .'. Some S is not P ———/ ——— .'. All S is M.
But the original minor premise, Some S is not M, is true by hypothesis; and therefore the conclusion of Barbara, All S is M, is false. This falsity cannot, however, be due to the form of Barbara, which we know to be valid; nor to the major premise, which, being taken from Baroco, is true by hypothesis: it must, therefore, lie in the minor premise of Barbara, All S is P; and since this is contradictory of the conclusion of Baroco Some S is not P, that conclusion was true.
Similarly, with Bocardo, the Indirect Reduction proceeds by substituting for the major premise the contradictory of the conclusion; thus again obtaining the premises of a syllogism in Barbara, whose conclusion is contradictory of the original major premise. Hence the initial B in Baroco and Bocardo: it points to a syllogism in Barbara as the means of Indirect Reduction (Reductio ad impossibile).
Any other Mood may be reduced indirectly: as, for example, Dimaris. If this is supposed to be invalid and the conclusion false, substitute the contradictory of the conclusion for the major premise, thus obtaining the premises of Celarent:
contradictory Some P is M; No S is P; / / All M is S: —————-/————-> All M is S: / contradictory/ .'. Some S is P. —————- ———— .'. No M is P} } simply converted .'. No P is M}
The conclusion of Celarent, simply converted, contradicts the original major premise of Dimaris, and is therefore false. Therefore the major premise of Celarent is false, and the conclusion of Dimaris is true. We might, of course, construct mnemonic names for the Indirect Reduction of all the Moods: the name of Dimaris would then be Cicari.
Sec. 9. The need or use of any Figure but the First has been much discussed by Logicians. Since, in actual debate, arguments are rarely stated in syllogistic form, and, therefore, if reduced to that form for closer scrutiny, generally have to be treated with some freedom; why not always throw them at once into the First Figure? That Figure has manifest advantages: it agrees directly with the Dictum; it gives conclusions in all four propositional forms, and therefore serves every purpose of full affirmation or denial, of showing agreement or difference (total or partial), of establishing the contradictories of universal statements; and it is the only Figure in which the subject and predicate of the conclusion occupy the same positions in the premises, so that the course of argument has in its mere expression an easy and natural flow.
Still, the Second Figure also has a very natural air in some kinds of negative arguments. The parallelism of the two premises, with the middle term as predicate in both, brings out very forcibly the necessary difference between the major and minor terms that is involved in their opposite relations to the middle term. P is not, whilst S is, M, says Cesare: that drives home the conviction that S is not P. Similarly in Camestres: Deer do, oxen do not, shed their horns. What is the conclusion?
The Third Figure, again, furnishes in Darapti and Felapton, the most natural forms of stating arguments in which the middle term is singular:
Socrates was truthful; Socrates was a Greek: .'. Some Greek was truthful.
Reducing this to Fig I., we should get for the minor premise, Some Greek was Socrates: which is certainly inelegant. Still, it might be urged that, in relation to proof, elegance is an extraneous consideration. And as for the other advantage claimed for Fig. III.—that, as it yields only particular conclusions, it is useful in establishing contradictories against universals—for that purpose none of its Moods can be better than Darii or Ferio.
As for Fig. IV., no particular advantage has been claimed for it. It is of comparatively late recognition (sometimes called the 'Galenian,' after Galen, its supposed discoverer); and its scientific claim to exist at all is disputed. It is said to be a mere inversion of Fig. I.; which is not true in any sense in which Figs. II. and III. may not be condemned as partial inversions of Fig. I., and as having therefore still less claim to recognition. It is also said to invert the order of thought; as if thought had only one order, or as if the order of thought had anything to do with Formal Logic. Surely, if distinction of Figure be recognised at all, the Fourth Figure is scientifically necessary, because it is inevitably generated by an analysis of the possible positions of the middle term.
Sec. 10. Is Reduction necessary, however; or have not all the Figures equal and independent validity? In one sense not only every Figure but each Mood has independent validity: for any one capable of abstract thinking sees its validity by direct inspection; and this is true not only of the abstract Moods, but very frequently of particular concrete arguments. But science aims at unifying knowledge; and after reducing all possible arguments that form categorical syllogisms to the nineteen Moods, it is another step in the same direction to reduce these Moods to one form. This is the very nature of science: and, accordingly, the efforts of some Logicians to expound separate principles of each Figure seem to be supererogatory. Grant that they succeed; and what can the next step be, but either to reduce these principles to the Dictum, or the Dictum and the rest to one of these principles? Unless this can be done there is no science of Formal Logic. If it is done, what is gained by reducing the principles of the other Figures to the Dictum, instead of the Moods of the other Figures to those of the first Figure? It may, perhaps, be said that to show (1) that the Moods of the second, third, and fourth Figures flow from their own principles (though, in fact, these principles are laboriously adapted to the Moods); and (2) that these principles may be derived from the Dictum, is the more uncompromisingly gradual and regular method: but is not Formal Logic already sufficiently encumbered with formalities?
Sec. 11. Euler's diagrams are used to illustrate the syllogism, though not very satisfactorily, thus:
Remembering that 'Some' means 'It may be all,' it is plain that any one of these diagrams in Fig. 7, or the one given above for Barbara, may represent the denotative relations of P, M and S in Darii; though no doubt the diagram we generally think of as representing Darii is No. 1 in Fig. 7.
Remembering that A may be U, and that, therefore, wherever A occurs there may be only one circle for S and P, these syllogisms may be represented by only two circles, and Barbara by only one.
Here, again, probably, we generally think of No. 1 as the diagram representing Ferio; but 2, or 3, or that given above for Celarent, is compatible with the premises.
If instead of dealing with M, P, and S, a concrete example be taken of Darii or Ferio, a knowledge of the facts of the case will show what diagram is suitable to it. But, then, surely it must be possible to do without the diagram. These diagrams, of course, can be used to illustrate Moods of the other Figures.
ABBREVIATED AND COMPOUND ARGUMENTS
Sec. 1. In ordinary discussion, whether oral or written, it is but rarely that the forms of Logic are closely adhered to. We often leave wide gaps in the structure of our arguments, trusting the intelligence of those addressed to bridge them over; or we invert the regular order of propositions, beginning with the conclusion, and mentioning the premises, perhaps, a good while after, confident that the sagacity of our audience will make all smooth. Sometimes a full style, like Macaulay's, may, by means of amplification and illustration, spread the elements of a single syllogism over several pages—a pennyworth of logic steeped in so much eloquence. These practices give a great advantage to sophists; who would find it very inconvenient to state explicitly in Mood and Figure the pretentious antilogies which they foist upon the public; and, indeed, such licences of composition often prevent honest men from detecting errors into which they themselves have unwittingly fallen, and which, with the best intentions, they strive to communicate to others: but we put up with these drawbacks to avoid the inelegance and the tedium of a long discourse in accurate syllogisms.
Many departures from the strictly logical statement of reasonings consist in the use of vague or figurative language, or in the substitution for one another of expressions supposed to be equivalent, though, in fact, dangerously discrepant. Against such occasions of error the logician can provide no safeguard, except the advice to be careful and discriminating in what you say or hear. But as to any derangement of the elements of an argument, or the omission of them, Logic effectually aids the task of restoration; for it has shown what the elements are that enter into the explicit statement of most ratiocinations, namely, the four forms of propositions and what that connected order of propositions is which most easily and surely exposes the validity or invalidity of reasoning, namely, the premises and conclusion of the Syllogism. Logic has even gone so far as to name certain abbreviated forms of proof, which may be regarded as general types of those that actually occur in debate, in leading articles, pamphlets and other persuasive or polemic writings—namely, the Enthymeme, Epicheirema and Sorites.
Sec. 2. The Enthymeme, according to Aristotle, is the Syllogism of probable reasoning about practical affairs and matters of opinion, in contrast with the Syllogism of theoretical demonstration upon necessary grounds. But, as now commonly treated, it is an argument with one of its elements omitted; a Categorical Syllogism, having one or other of its premises, or else its conclusion, suppressed. If the major premise be suppressed, it is called an Enthymeme of the First Order; if the minor premise be wanting, it is said to be of the Second Order; if the conclusion be left to be understood, there is an Enthymeme of the Third Order.
Let the following be a complete Syllogism:
All free nations are enterprising; The Dutch are a free nation: .'. The Dutch are enterprising.
Reduced to Enthymemes, this argument may be put thus:
In the First Order:
The Dutch are a free nation: .'. The Dutch are enterprising.
In the Second Order—
All free nations are enterprising; .'. The Dutch are enterprising.
In the Third Order—
All free nations are enterprising; And the Dutch are a free nation.
It is certainly very common to meet with arguments whose statement may be represented by one or other of these three forms; indeed, the Enthymeme is the natural substitute for a full syllogism in oratory: whence the transition from Aristotle's to the modern meaning of the term. The most unschooled of men readily apprehend its force; and a student of Logic can easily supply the proposition that may be wanted in any case to complete a syllogism, and thereby test the argument's formal validity. In any Enthymeme of the Third Order, especially, to supply the conclusion cannot present any difficulty at all; and hence it is a favourite vehicle of innuendo, as in Hamilton's example:
Every liar is a coward; And Caius is a liar.
The frankness of this statement and its reticence, together, make it a biting sarcasm upon Caius.
The process of finding the missing premise in an Enthymeme of either the First or the Second Order, so as to constitute a syllogism, is sometimes called Reduction; and for this a simple rule may be given: Take that term of the given premise which does not occur in the conclusion (and which must therefore be the Middle), and combine it with that term of the conclusion which does not occur in the given premise; the proposition thus formed is the premise which was requisite to complete the Syllogism. If the premise thus constituted contain the predicate of the conclusion, the Enthymeme was of the First Order; if it contain the subject of the conclusion, the Enthymeme was of the Second Order.
That a statement in the form of a Hypothetical Proposition may really be an Enthymeme (as observed in chap. v. Sec. 4) can easily be shown by recasting one of the above Enthymemes thus: If all free nations are enterprising, the Dutch are enterprising. Such statements should be treated according to their true nature.
To reduce the argument of any ordinary discourse to logical form, the first care should be to make it clear to oneself what exactly the conclusion is, and to state it adequately but as succinctly as possible. Then look for the evidence. This may be of an inductive character, consisting of instances, examples, analogies; and, if so, of course its cogency must be evaluated by the principles of Induction, which we shall presently investigate. But if the evidence be deductive, it will probably consist of an Enthymeme, or of several Enthymemes one depending on another. Each Enthymeme may be isolated and expanded into a syllogism. And we may then inquire: (1) whether the syllogisms are formally correct according to Barbara (or whatever the appropriate Mood); (2) whether the premises, or the ultimate premises, are true in fact.
Sec. 3. A Monosyllogism is a syllogism considered as standing alone or without relation to other arguments. But, of course, a disputant may be asking to prove the premises of any syllogism; in which case other syllogisms may be advanced for that purpose. When the conclusion of one syllogism is used to prove another, we have a chain-argument which, stated at full length, is a Polysyllogism. In any Polysyllogism, again, a syllogism whose conclusion is used as the premise of another, is called in relation to that other a Prosyllogism; whilst a syllogism one of whose premises is the conclusion of another syllogism, is in relation to that other an Episyllogism. Two modes of abbreviating a Polysyllogism, are usually discussed, the Epicheirema and the Sorites.
Sec. 4. An Epicheirema is a syllogism for one or both of whose premises a reason is added; as—
All men are mortal, for they are animals; Socrates is a man, for rational bipeds are men: .'. Socrates is mortal.
The Epicheirema is called Single or Double, says Hamilton, according as an "adscititious proposition" attaches to one or both of the premises. The above example is of the double kind. The Single Epicheirema is said to be of the First Order, if the adscititious proposition attach to the major premise; if to the minor, of the Second Order. (Hamilton's Logic: Lecture xix.)
An Epicheirema, then, is an abbreviated chain of reasoning, or Polysyllogism, comprising an Episyllogism with one or two enthymematic Prosyllogisms. The major premise in the above case, All men are mortal, for they are animals, is an Enthymeme of the First Order, suppressing its own major premise, and may be restored thus:
All animals are mortal; All men are animals: .'. All men are mortal.
The minor premise, Socrates is a man, for rational bipeds are men, is an Enthymeme of the Second Order, suppressing its own minor premise, and may be restored thus:
All rational bipeds are men; Socrates is a rational biped: .'. Socrates is a man.
Sec. 5. The Sorites is a Polysyllogism in which the Conclusions, and even some of the Premises, are suppressed until the arguments end. If the chain of arguments were freed of its enthymematic character, the suppressed conclusions would appear as premises of Episyllogisms.
Two varieties of Sorites are recognised, the Aristotelian (so called, though not treated of by Aristotle), and the Goclenian (named after its discoverer, Goclenius of Marburg, who flourished about 1600 A.D.). In order to compare these two forms of argument, it will be convenient to place side by side Hamilton's classical examples of them.
Aristotelian. Goclenian. Bucephalus is a horse; An animal is a substance; A horse is a quadruped; A quadruped is an animal; A quadruped is an animal; A horse is a quadruped; An animal is a substance: Bucephalus is a horse: .'. Bucephalus is a substance. .'. Bucephalus is a substance.
The reader wonders what is the difference between these two forms. In the Aristotelian Sorites the minor term occurs in the first premise, and the major term in the last; whilst in the Goclenian the major term occurs in the first premise, and the minor in the last. But since the character of premises is fixed by their terms, not by the order in which they are written, there cannot be a better example of a distinction without a difference. At a first glance, indeed, there may seem to be a more important point involved; the premises of the Aristotelian Sorites seem to proceed in the order of Fig. IV. But if that were really so the conclusion would be, Some Substance is Bucephalus. That, on the contrary, every one writes the conclusion, Bucephalus is a substance, proves that the logical order of the premises is in Fig. I. Logically, therefore, there is absolutely no difference between these two forms, and pure reason requires either that the "Aristotelian Sorites" disappear from the text-books, or that it be regarded as in Fig. IV., and its conclusion converted. It is the shining merit of Goclenius to have restored the premises of the Sorites to the usual order of Fig. I.: whereby he has raised to himself a monument more durable than brass, and secured indeed the very cheapest immortality.
The common Sorites, then, being in Fig. I., its rules follow from those of Fig. I:
(1) Only one premise can be particular; and, if any, only that in which the minor term occurs.
For, just as in Fig I., a particular premise anywhere else involves undistributed Middle.
(2) Only one premise can be negative; and, if any, only that in which the major term occurs.
For if there were two negative premises, at the point where the second entered the chain of argument there must be a syllogism with two negative premises, which is contrary to Rule 5; whilst if one premise be negative it must be that which contains the major term, for the same reason as in Fig. I., namely, that the conclusion will be negative, and that therefore only a negative major premise can prevent illicit process of the major term.
If we expand a Sorites into its constituent syllogisms, the conclusions successively suppressed will reappear as major premises; thus:
(1) An animal is a substance; A quadruped is an animal: .'. A quadruped is a substance.
(2) A quadruped is a substance; A horse is a quadruped: .'. A horse is a substance.
(3) A horse is a substance: Bucephalus is a horse: .'. Bucephalus is a substance.
This suffices to show that the Protosyllogism of a Goclenian Sorites is an Enthymeme of the Third Order; after which the argument is a chain of Enthymemes of the First Order, or of the First and Third combined, since the conclusions as well as the major premises are omitted, except in the last one.
Lest it should be thought that the Sorites is only good for arguments so frivolous as the above, I subjoin an example collected from various parts of Mill's Political Economy:—
The cost of labour depends on the efficiency of labour; The rate of profits depends on the cost of labour; The investment of capital depends on the rate of profits; Wages depend on the investment of capital: .'. Wages depend on the efficiency of labour.
Had it occurred to Mill to construct this Sorites, he would have modified his doctrine of the wages-fund, and would have spared many critics the malignant joy of refuting him.
Sec. 6. The Antinomy is a combination of arguments by which contradictory attributes are proved to be predicable of the same subject. In symbols, thus:
All M is P; All N is p; All S is M: All S is N: .'. All S is P. .'. All S is p.
Now, by the principle of Contradiction, S cannot be P and p (not-P): therefore, if both of the above syllogisms are sound, S, as the subject of contradictory attributes, is logically an impossible thing. The contradictory conclusions are called, respectively, Thesis and Antithesis.
To come to particulars, we may argue: (1) that a constitution which is at once a monarchy, an aristocracy and a democracy, must comprise the best elements of all three forms; and must, therefore, be the best of all forms of government: the British Constitution is, therefore, the best of all. But (2) such a constitution must also comprise the worst elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy; and, therefore, must be the worst of all forms. Are we, then, driven to conclude that the British Constitution, thus proved to be both the best and worst, does not really exist at all, being logically impossible? The proofs seem equally cogent; but perhaps neither the best nor the worst elements of the simpler constitutions need be present in our own in sufficient force to make it either good or bad.
(1) Every being who is responsible for his actions is free; Man is responsible for his actions: .'. Man is free.
(2) Every being whose actions enter into the course of nature is not free; Man is such a being: .'. Man is not free.
Does it, then, follow that 'Man,' as the subject of contradictory attributes, is a nonentity? This doctrine, or something like it, has been seriously entertained; but if to any reader it seem extravagant (as it certainly does to me), he will no doubt find an error in the above arguments. Perhaps the major term is ambiguous.
For other examples it is enough to refer to the Critique of Pure Reason, where Kant sets out the Antinomies of Rational Cosmology. But even if we do not agree with Kant that the human understanding, in attempting to deal with certain subjects beyond its reach, inevitably falls into such contradictory reasonings; yet it can hardly be doubted that we not unfrequently hold opinions which, if logically developed, result in Antinomies. And, accordingly, the Antinomy, if it cannot be imputed to Reason herself, may be a very fair, and a very wholesome argumentum ad hominem. It was the favourite weapon of the Pyrrhonists against the dogmatic philosophies that flourished after the death of Aristotle.
Sec. 1. Conditional Syllogisms may be generally described as those that contain conditional propositions. They are usually divided into two classes, Hypothetical and Disjunctive.
A Hypothetical Syllogism is one that consists of a Hypothetical Major Premise, a Categorical Minor Premise, and a Categorical Conclusion. Two Moods are usually recognised the Modus ponens, in which the antecedent of the hypothetical major premise is affirmed; and the Modus tollens, in which its consequent is denied.
(1) Modus ponens, or Constructive.
If A is B, C is D; A is B: .'. C is D.
If Aristotle's reasoning is conclusive, Plato's theory of Ideas is erroneous;
Aristotle's reasoning is conclusive: .'. Plato's theory of Ideas is erroneous.
Rule of the Modus ponens: The antecedent of the major premise being affirmed in the minor premise, the consequent is also affirmed in the conclusion.
(2) Modus tollens, or Destructive.
If A is B, C is D; C is not D: .'. A is not B.
If Pythagoras is to be trusted, Justice is a number; Justice is not a number: .'. Pythagoras is not to be trusted.
Rule of the Modus tollens: The consequent of the major premise being denied in the minor premise, the antecedent is denied in the conclusion.
By using negative major premises two other forms are obtainable: then, either by affirming the antecedent or by denying the consequent, we draw a negative conclusion.
Thus (Modus ponens): (Modus tollens):
If A is B, C is not D; If A is B, C is not D; A is B: C is D: .'. C is not D. .'. A is not B.
Further, since the antecedent of the major premise, taken by itself, may be negative, it seems possible to obtain four more forms, two in each Mood, from the following major premises:
(1) If A is not B, C is D; (2) If A is not B, C is not D.
But since the quality of a Hypothetical Proposition is determined by the quality of its consequent, not at all by the quality of its antecedent, we cannot get from these two major premises any really new Moods, that is to say, Moods exhibiting any formal difference from the four previously expounded.
It is obvious that, given the hypothetical major premise—
If A is B, C is D—
we cannot, by denying the antecedent, infer a denial of the consequent. That A is B, is a mark of C being D; but we are not told that it is the sole and indispensable condition of it. If men read good books, they acquire knowledge; but they may acquire knowledge by other means, as by observation. For the same reason, we cannot by affirming the consequent infer the affirmation of the antecedent: Caius may have acquired knowledge; but we cannot thence conclude that he has read good books.
To see this in another light, let us recall chap. v. Sec. 4, where it was shown that a hypothetical proposition may be translated into a categorical one; whence it follows that a Hypothetical Syllogism may be translated into a Categorical Syllogism. Treating the above examples thus, we find that the Modus ponens (with affirmative major premise) takes the form of Barbara, and the Modus tollens the form of Camestres:
Modus ponens. Barbara.
If A is B, C is D; The case of A being B is a case of C being D; A is B: This is a case of A being B: .'. C is D. .'. This is a case of C being D.
Now if, instead of this, we affirm the consequent, to form the new minor premise,
This is a case of C being D,
there will be a Syllogism in the Second Figure with two affirmative premises, and therefore the fallacy of undistributed Middle. Again:
Modus tollens. Camestres.
If A is B, C is D; The case of A being B is a case of C being D: C is not D: This is not a case of C being D: .'. A is not B. .'. This is not a case of A being B.
But if, instead of this, we deny the antecedent, to form the new minor premise,
This is not a case of A being B,
there arises a syllogism in the First Figure with a negative minor premise, and therefore the fallacy of illicit process of the major term.
By thus reducing the Hypothetical Syllogism to the Categorical form, what is lost in elegance is gained in intelligibility. For, first, we may justify ourselves in speaking of the hypothetical premise as the major, and of the categorical premise as the minor; since in the categorical form they contain respectively the major and minor terms. And, secondly, we may justify ourselves in treating the Hypothetical Syllogism as a kind of Mediate Inference, in spite of the fact that it does not exhibit two terms compared by means of a third; since in the Categorical form such terms distinctly appear: a new term ('This') emerges in the position of the minor; the place of the Middle is filled by the antecedent of the major premise in the Modus ponens, and by the consequent in the Modus tollens.
The mediate element of the inference in a Hypothetical Syllogism consists in asserting, or denying, the fulfilment of a given condition; just as in a Categorical syllogism to identify the minor term with the Middle is a condition of the major term's being predicated of it. In the hypothetical proposition—
If A is B, C is D—
the Antecedent, A is B, is the conditio sufficiens, or mark, of the Consequent, C is D; and therefore the Consequent, C is D, is a conditio sine qua non of the antecedent, A is B; and it is by means of affirming the former condition, or else denying the latter, that a conclusion is rendered possible.
Indeed, we need not say that the element of mediation consists in affirming, or denying, the fulfilment of a given condition: it is enough to say 'in affirming.' For thus to explain the Modus tollens, reduce it to the Modus ponens (contrapositing the major premise and obverting the minor):
If A is B, C is D: The case of C being not-D is .'. If C is not-D, A is not B; not a case of A being B; C is not-D: This is a case of C being .'. A is not B. not-D: .'. This is not a case of A being B.
The above four forms commonly treated of as Hypothetical Syllogisms, are called by Ueberweg and Dr. Keynes 'Hypothetico-Categorical.' Ueberweg restricts the name 'Hypothetical' simply (and Dr. Keynes the name 'Conditional') to such Syllogisms as the following, having two Hypothetical Premises:
If C is D, E is F; If A is B, C is D: .'. If A is B, E is F.
If we recognise particular hypothetical propositions (see chap. v. Sec. 4), it is obvious that such Syllogisms may be constructed in all the Moods and Figures of the Categorical Syllogism; and of course they may be translated into Categoricals. We often reason in this hypothetical way. For example:
If the margin of cultivation be extended, rents will rise; If prices of produce rise, the margin of cultivation will be extended: .'. If prices of produce rise, rents will rise.
But the function of the Hypothetical Syllogism (commonly so called), as also of the Disjunctive Syllogism (to be discussed in the next section) is to get rid of the conditional element of the premises, to pass from suspense to certainty, and obtain a decisive categorical conclusion; whereas these Syllogisms with two hypothetical premises leave us still with a hypothetical conclusion. This circumstance seems to ally them more closely with Categorical Syllogisms than with those that are discussed in the present chapter. That they are Categoricals in disguise may be seen by considering that the above syllogism is not materially significant, unless in each proposition the word 'If' is equivalent to 'Whenever.' Accordingly, the name 'Hypothetical Syllogism,' is here employed in the older usage.
Sec. 2. A Disjunctive Syllogism consists of a Disjunctive Major Premise, a Categorical Minor Premise, and a Categorical Conclusion.
How many Moods are to be recognised in this kind of argument depends on whether the alternatives of the Disjunctive Premise are regarded as mutually exclusive or possibly coincident. In saying 'Either A is B, or C is D,' do we mean 'either, but not both,' or 'either, it may be both'? (See chap. v. Sec. 4.)
When the alternatives of the Disjunctive are not exclusive, we have only the
Modus tollendo ponens.
Either A is B, or C is D; A is not B (or C is not D): .'. C is D (or A is B).
Either wages fall, or the weaker hands are dismissed;
Wages do not fall: .'. The weaker hands are dismissed.
But we cannot argue—
Wages fall: .'. The weaker hands are not dismissed;
since in 'hard times' both events may happen together.
Rule of the Modus tollendo ponens: If one alternative be denied, the other is affirmed.
When, however, the alternatives of the Disjunctive are mutually exclusive, we have also the
Modus ponendo tollens.
Either A is B, or C is D; A is B (or C is D): .'. C is not D (or A is not B).
Either the Tories or the Whigs win the election;
The Tories win: .'. The Whigs do not win.
We may also, of course, argue as above in the Modus tollendo ponens—
The Tories do not win: .'. The Whigs do.
But in this example, to make the Modus tollendo ponens materially valid, it must be impossible that the election should result in a tie. The danger of the Disjunctive Proposition is that the alternatives may not, between them, exhaust the possible cases. Only contradictory alternatives are sure to cover the whole ground.
Rule of the Modus ponendo tollens: If one alternative be affirmed, the other is denied.
Since a disjunctive proposition may be turned into a hypothetical proposition (chap. v. Sec. 4,) a Disjunctive Syllogism may be turned into a Hypothetical Syllogism:
Modus tollendo ponens. Modus ponens.
Either A is B, or C is D; If A is not B, C is D; A is not B: A is not B: .'. C is D. .'. C is D.
Similarly the Modus ponendo tollens is equivalent to that kind of Modus ponens which may be formed with a negative major premise; for if the alternatives of a disjunctive proposition be exclusive, the corresponding hypothetical be affirmative or negative:
Modus ponendo tollens. Modus ponens.
Either A is B, or C is D; If A is B, C is not D; A is B: A is B: .'. C is not D. .'. C is not D.
Hence, finally, a Disjunctive Syllogism being equivalent to a Hypothetical, and a Hypothetical to a Categorical; a Disjunctive Syllogism is equivalent and reducible to a Categorical. It is a form of Mediate Inference in the same sense as the Hypothetical Syllogism is; that is to say, the conclusion depends upon an affirmation, or denial, of the fulfilment of a condition implied in the disjunctive major premise.
Sec. 3. The Dilemma is perhaps the most popularly interesting of all forms of proof. It is a favourite weapon of orators and wits; and "impaled upon the horns of a dilemma" is a painful situation in which every one delights to see his adversary. It seems to have been described by Rhetoricians before finding its way into works on Logic; and Logicians, to judge from their diverse ways of defining it, have found some difficulty in making up their minds as to its exact character.
There is a famous Dilemma employed by Demosthenes, from which the general nature of the argument may be gathered:
If AEschines joined in the public rejoicings, he is inconsistent; if he did not, he is unpatriotic;
But either he joined, or he did not join:
Therefore he is either inconsistent or unpatriotic.
That is, reduced to symbols:
If A is B, C is D; and if E is F, G is H: But either A is B, or E is F; .'. Either C is D or G is H (Complex Constructive).
This is a compound Conditional Syllogism, which may be analysed as follows:
Either A is B or E is F.
Suppose that E is not F: Suppose that A is not B: Then A is B. Then E is F. But if A is B, C is D; But if E is F, G is H; (A is B): (E is F): .'. C is D. .'. G is H.
.'. Either C is D or G is H.
A Dilemma, then, is a compound Conditional Syllogism, having for its Major Premise two Hypothetical Propositions, and for its Minor Premise a Disjunctive Proposition, whose alternative terms either affirm the Antecedents or deny the Consequents of the two Hypothetical Propositions forming the Major Premise.
The hypothetical propositions in the major premise, may have all four terms distinct (as in the above example); and then the conclusion is a disjunctive proposition, and the Dilemma is said to be Complex. Or the two hypothetical propositions may have a common antecedent or a common consequent; and then the conclusion is a categorical proposition, and the Dilemma is said to be Simple.
Again, the alternatives of the disjunctive minor premise may be affirmative or negative: if affirmative, the Dilemma is called Constructive; and if negative, Destructive.
Using, then, only affirmative hypothetical propositions in the major premise, there are four Moods:
1. The Simple Constructive—
If A is B, C is D; and if E is F, C is D: But either A is B, or E is F: .'. C is D.
If the Tories win the election, the Government will avoid innovation; and if the Whigs win, the House of Lords will prevent them innovating:
But either the Tories or the Whigs will win:
.'. There will be no innovation.
2. The Complex Constructive—
If A is B, C is D; and if E is F, G is H: But either A is B, or E is F: .'. Either C is D or G is H.
If appearance is all that exists, reality is a delusion; and if there is a substance beyond consciousness, knowledge of reality is impossible:
But either appearance is all, or there is a substance beyond consciousness:
.'. Either reality is a delusion, or a knowledge of it is impossible.
3. Simple Destructive—
If A is B, C is D; and if A is B, E is F: But either C is not D, or E is not F: .'. A is not B.
If table-rappers are to be trusted, the departed are spirits; and they also exert mechanical energy:
But either the departed are not spirits, or they do not exert mechanical energy:
.'. Table-rappers are not to be trusted.
4. Complex Destructive—
If A is B, C is D; and if E is F, G is H: But either C is not D, or G is not H: .'. Either A is not B, or E is not F.
If poetic justice is observed, virtue is rewarded; and if the mirror is held up to Nature, the villain triumphs:
But either virtue is not rewarded, or the villain does not triumph:
.'. Either poetic justice is not observed, or the mirror is not held up to Nature.
Such are the four Moods of the Dilemma that emerge if we only use affirmative hypotheticals for the major premise; but, certainly, it is often quite as natural to employ two negative hypotheticals (indeed, one might be affirmative and the other negative; but waive that); and then four more moods emerge, all having negative conclusions. It is needless to intimidate the reader by drawing up these four moods in battle array: they always admit of reduction to the foregoing moods by obverting the hypotheticals. Still, by the same process we may greatly decrease the number of moods of the Categorical Syllogism; and just as some Syllogisms are most simply expressed in Celarent or Cesare, so some Dilemmas are most simply stated with negative major premises—e.g., The example of a Simple Constructive Dilemma above given would run more naturally thus: If the Tories win, the Government will not innovate; and if the Whigs, the Lords will not let them: and similarly Demosthenes' Dilemma—If AEschines joined, he is not consistent; and if he did not, he is not patriotic. Moreover, the propriety of recognising Dilemmas with negative major premises, follows from the above analysis of the Dilemma into a combination of Conditional Syllogisms, even if (as in Sec. 1 of this chapter) we take account of only four Moods of the Hypothetical Syllogism.
In the rhetorical use of the Dilemma, it may be observed that the disjunction in the minor premise ought to be obvious, or (at any rate) easily acceptable to the audience. Thus, Either the Tories or the Whigs will win; Either AEschines joined in the rejoicings, or he did not; such propositions are not likely to be disputed. But if the orator must stop to prove his minor premise, the smacking effect of this figure (if the expression be allowed) will be lost. Hence the minor premises of other examples given above are only fit for a select audience. That Either ghosts are not spirits, or they do not exert mechanical energy, supposes a knowledge of the principle, generally taught by physical philosophers, that only matter is the vehicle of energy; and that Either appearance is all, or there is substance beyond consciousness, is a doctrine which only metaphysical philosophers could be expected to understand, and upon which they could not be expected to agree. However, the chief danger is that a plausible disjunction may not be really such as to exclude any middle ground: Either the Tories or the Whigs win, is bad, if a tie be possible; though in the above argument this is negligible, seeing that a tie cannot directly cause innovations. Either AEschines joined in the rejoicings, or he did not, does not allow for a decent conformity with the public movement where resistance would be vain; yet such conformity as need not be inconsistent with subsequent condemnation of the proceedings, nor incompatible with patriotic reserve founded on a belief that the rejoicings are premature and ominous.
Another rhetorical consideration is, that the alternatives of the disjunctive conclusion of a Complex Dilemma should both point the same way, should be equally distasteful or paradoxical. 'Either inconsistent or unpatriotic': horrid words to a politician! 'Either no reality or no possible knowledge of it': very disappointing to an anxious inquirer! Thus the disjunctive conclusion is as bad for an opponent as the categorical one in a Simple Dilemma.
Logicians further speak of the Trilemma, with three Hypotheticals and a corresponding triple Disjunction; and of a Polylemma, with any further number of perplexities. But anyone who has a taste for logical forms may have it amply gratified in numerous text-books.
TRANSITION TO INDUCTION
Sec. 1. Having now discussed Terms, Propositions, Immediate and Mediate Inferences, and investigated the conditions of formal truth or consistency, we have next to consider the conditions of material truth: whether (or how far) it is possible to arrive at propositions that accurately represent the course of nature or of human life. Hitherto we have dealt with no sort of proof that gives any such assurance. A valid syllogism guarantees the truth of its conclusion, provided the premises be true: but what of the premises? The relation between the premises of a valid syllogism and its conclusion is the same as the relation between the antecedent and consequent of a hypothetical proposition. If A is B, C is D: grant that A is B, and it follows that C is D; and, similarly, grant the premises of a syllogism, and the conclusion follows. Again, grant that C is not D, and it follows that A is not B; and, similarly, if the conclusion of a valid syllogism be false, it follows that one, or other, or both of the premises must be false. But, once more, grant that C is D, and it does not follow that A is B; so neither, if the conclusion of a syllogism be true, does it follow that the premises are. For example:—
Sociology is an exact science; Mathematics is a branch of Sociology: .'. Mathematics is an exact science.
Here the conclusion is true although the premises are absurd. Or again:—
Mathematics is an exact science; Sociology is a branch of Mathematics: .'. Sociology is an exact science.
Here the major premise is true, but the minor is false, and the conclusion is false. In both cases, however, whether the conclusion be true or false, it equally follows from the premises, if there is any cogency in Barbara. The explanation of this is, that Barbara has only formal cogency; and that whether the conclusion of that, or any other valid mood, shall be true according to fact and experience, depends upon how the form is filled up. How to establish the premises, then, is a most important problem; and it still remains to be solved.
Sec. 2. We may begin by recalling the distinction between the denotation and connotation of a general term: the denotation comprising the things or events which the term is a name for; the connotation comprising the common qualities on account of which these things are called by the same name. Obviously, there are very few general terms whose denotation is exhaustively known; since the denotation of a general term comprises all the things that have its connotation, or that ever have had, or that ever will have it, whether they exist here, or in Australia, or in the Moon, or in the utmost stars. No one has examined all men, all mammoths, all crystals, all falling bodies, all cases of fever, all revolutions, all stars—nor even all planets, since from time to time new ones are discerned. We have names for animals that existed long before there were men to observe them, and of which we know only a few bones, the remains of multitudinous species; and for others that may continue to exist when men have disappeared from the earth.
If, indeed, we definitely limit the time, or place, or quantity of matter to be explored, we may sometimes learn, within the given limits, all that there is to know: as all the bones of a particular animal, or the list of English monarchs hitherto, or the names of all the members of the House of Commons at the present time. Such cases, however, do not invalidate the above logical truth that few general terms are exhaustively known in their denotation; for the very fact of assigning limits of time and place impairs the generality of a term. The bones of a certain animal may be all examined, but not the bones of all animals, nor even of one species. The English monarchs that have reigned hitherto may be known, but there may be many still to reign.
The general terms, then, with which Logic is chiefly concerned, the names of Causes and Kinds, such as gravitation, diseases, social events, minerals, plants and animals, stand for some facts that are, or have been, known, and for a great many other similar ones that have not been, and never will be, known. The use of a general term depends not upon our direct knowledge of everything comprised in its denotation, but upon our readiness to apply it to anything that has its connotation, whether we have seen the thing or not, and even though we never can perceive it; as when a man talks freely of the ichthyosaurus, or of the central heat of planets, or of atoms and ether.
Hence Universal Propositions, which consist of general terms, deceive us, if we suppose that their predicates are directly known to be related to all the facts denoted by their subjects. In exceptional cases, in which the denotation of a subject is intentionally limited, such exhaustive direct knowledge may be possible; as that "all the bones of a certain animal consist of phosphate of lime," or that every member of the present Parliament wears a silk hat. But what predication is possible concerning the hats of all members of Parliament from the beginning? Ordinarily, then, whilst the relation of predicate to subject has been observed in some cases, in much the greater number of cases our belief about it depends upon something besides observation, or may be said (in a certain sense) to be taken on trust.
'All rabbits are herbivorous': why do we believe that? We may have seen a few wild rabbits feeding: or have kept tame ones, and tried experiments with their diet; or have read of their habits in a book of Natural History; or have studied the anatomy and physiology of the digestive system in many sorts of animals: but with whatever care we add testimony and scientific method to our own observation, it still remains true that the rabbits observed by ourselves and others are few in comparison with those that live, have lived and will live. Similarly of any other universal proposition; that it 'goes beyond the evidence' of direct observation plainly follows from the fact that the general terms, of which such propositions consist, are never exhaustively known in their denotation. What right have we then to state Universal Propositions? That is the problem of Inductive Logic.
Sec. 3. Universal Propositions, of course, cannot always be proved by syllogisms; because to prove a universal proposition by a syllogism, its premises must be universal propositions; and, then, these must be proved by others. This process may sometimes go a little way, thus: All men are mortal, because All animals are; and All animals are mortal, because All composite bodies are subject to dissolution. Were there no limit to such sorites, proof would always involve a regressus ad infinitum, for which life is too short; but, in fact, prosyllogisms soon fail us.
Clearly, the form of the Syllogism must itself be misleading if the universal proposition is so: if we think that premises prove the conclusion because they themselves have been established by detailed observation, we are mistaken. The consideration of any example will show this. Suppose any one to argue:
All ruminants are herbivorous; Camels are ruminants: .'. Camels are herbivorous.
Have we, then, examined all ruminants? If so, we must have examined all camels, and cannot need a syllogism to prove their herbivorous nature: instead of the major premise proving the conclusion, the proof of the conclusion must then be part of the proof of the major premise. But if we have not examined all ruminants, having omitted most giraffes, most deer, most oxen, etc., how do we know that the unexamined (say, some camels) are not exceptional? Camels are vicious enough to be carnivorous; and indeed it is said that Bactrian camels will eat flesh rather than starve, though of course their habit is herbivorous.
Or, again, it is sometimes urged that—
All empires decay: .'. Britain will decay.
This is manifestly a prediction: at present Britain flourishes, and shows no signs of decay. Yet a knowledge of its decay seems necessary, to justify any one in asserting the given premise. If it is a question whether Britain will decay, to attempt (while several empires still flourish) to settle the matter by asserting that all empires decay, seems to be 'a begging of the question.' But although this latter case is a manifest prediction, it does not really differ from the former one; for the proof that camels are herbivorous has no limits in time. If valid, it shows not only that they are, but also that they will be, herbivorous.
Hence, to resort to a dilemma, it may be urged: If all the facts of the major premise of any syllogism have been examined, the syllogism is needless; and if some of them have not been examined, it is a petitio principii. But either all have been examined, or some have not. Therefore; the syllogism is either useless or fallacious.
Sec. 4. A way of escape from this dilemma is provided by distinguishing between the formal and material aspects of the syllogism considered as a means of proof. It begs the question formally, but not materially; that is to say, if it be a question whether camels are herbivorous, and to decide it we are told that 'all ruminants are,' laying stress upon the 'all,' as if all had been examined, though in fact camels have not been, then the question as to camels is begged. The form of a universal proposition is then offered as evidence, when in fact the evidence has not been universally ascertained. But if in urging that 'all ruminants are herbivorous' no more is meant than that so many other ruminants of different species are known to be herbivorous, and that the ruminant stomach is so well adapted to a coarse vegetable diet, that the same habit may be expected in other ruminants, such as camels, the argument then rests upon material evidence without unfairly implying the case in question. Now the nature of the material evidence is plainly this, that the resemblance of camels to deer, oxen, etc., in chewing the cud, justifies us in believing that they have a further resemblance in feeding on herbs; in other words, we assume that resemblance is a ground of inference.
Another way of putting this difficulty which we have just been discussing, with regard to syllogistic evidence, is to urge that by the Laws of Syllogism a conclusion must never go beyond the premises, and that therefore no progress in knowledge can ever be established, except by direct observation. Now, taking the syllogism formally, this is true: if the conclusion go beyond the premises, there must be either four terms, or illicit process of the major or minor term. But, taking it materially, the conclusion may cover facts which were not in view when the major premise was laid down; facts of which we predicate something not as the result of direct observation, but because they resemble in a certain way those facts which had been shown to carry the predicate when the major premise was formed.
'What sort of resemblance is a sufficient ground of inference?' is, therefore, the important question alike in material Deduction and in Induction; and in endeavouring to answer it we shall find that the surest ground of inference is resemblance of causation. For example, it is due to causation that ruminants are herbivorous. Their instincts make them crop the herb, and their stomachs enable them easily to digest it; and in these characters camels are like the other ruminants.
Sec. 5. In ch. ix, Sec. 3, the Dictum de omni et nullo was stated: 'Whatever may be predicated of a term distributed may be predicated of anything that can be identified with that term.' Nothing was there said (as nothing was needed) of the relations that might be implied in the predication. But now that it comes to the ultimate validity of predication, we must be clear as to what these relations are; and it will also be convenient to speak no longer of terms, as in Formal Logic, but of the things denoted. What relations, then, can be determined between concrete facts or phenomena (physical or mental) with the greatest certainty of general truth; and what axioms are there that sanction mediate inferences concerning those relations?
In his Logic (B. II. c. 2, Sec. 3) Mill gives as the axiom of syllogistic reasoning, instead of the Dictum: "A thing which co-exists with another thing, which other co-exists with a third thing, also co-exists with that third thing." Thus the peculiar properties of Socrates co-exist with the attributes of man, which co-exist with mortality: therefore, Socrates is mortal. But, again, he says that the ground of the syllogism is Induction; that man is mortal is an induction. And, further, the ground of Induction is causation; the law of causation is the ultimate major premise of every sound induction. Now causation is the principle of the succession of phenomena: how, then, can the syllogism rest on an axiom concerning co-existence? On reflection, too, it must appear that 'Man is mortal' predicates causation: the human constitution issues in death.
The explanation of this inconsistency may perhaps be found in the history of Mill's work. Books I. and II. were written in 1831; but being unable at that time to explain Induction, he did not write Book III. until 1837-8. Then, no doubt, he revised the earlier Books, but not enough to bring his theory of the syllogism into complete agreement with the theory of Induction; so that the axiom of co-existence was allowed to stand.
Mill also introduced the doctrine of Natural Kinds as a ground of Induction supplementary, at least provisionally, to causation; and to reasoning about Kinds, or Substance and Attribute, his axiom of co-existence is really adapted. Kinds are groups of things that agree amongst themselves and differ from all others in a multitude of qualities: these qualities co-exist, or co-inhere, with a high degree of constancy; so that where some are found others may be inferred. Their co-inherence is not to be considered an ultimate fact; for, "since everything which occurs is determined by laws of causation and collocations of the original causes, it follows that the co-existences observable amongst effects cannot themselves be the subject of any similar set of laws distinct from laws of causation" (B. III. c. 5, Sec. 9). According to the theory of evolution (worked out since Mill wrote), Kinds—that is, species of plants, animals and minerals—with their qualities are all due to causation. Still, as we can rarely, or never, trace the causes with any fullness or precision, a great deal of our reasoning, as, e.g., about men and camels, does in fact trust to the relative permanence of natural Kinds as defined by co-inhering attributes.
To see this more clearly, we should consider that causation and natural Kinds are not at present separable; propositions about causation in concrete phenomena (as distinct from abstract 'forces') always involve the assumption of Kinds. For example—'Water rusts iron,' or the oxygen of water combines with iron immersed in it to form rust: this statement of causation assumes that water, oxygen, iron, and iron-rust are known Kinds. On the other hand, the constitution of every concrete thing, and manifestly of every organised body, is always undergoing change, that is, causation, upon which fact its properties depend.
How, then, can we frame principles of mediate reasoning, about such things? So far as we consider them as Kinds, it is enough to say: Whatever can be identified as a specimen of a known substance or Kind has the properties of that Kind. So far as we consider them as in the relation of causation, we may say: Whatever relation of events can be identified with the relation of cause and effect is constant. And these principles may be generalised thus: Whatever is constantly related to a phenomenon (cause or Kind), determined by certain characters, is related in the same way to any phenomenon, that has the same characters. Taking this as axiom of the syllogism materially treated, we see that herbivorousness, being constantly related to ruminants, is constantly related to camels; mortality to man and, therefore, to Socrates; rusting to the immersion of iron in water generally and, therefore, to this piece of iron. Nota notae, nota rei ipsius is another statement of the same principle; still another is Mill's axiom, "Whatever has a mark has what it is a mark of." A mark is anything (A) that is never found without something else (B)—a phenomenon constantly related to another phenomenon—so that wherever A is found, B may be expected: human nature is a mark of mortality.
Sec. 6. The Syllogism has sometimes been discarded by those who have only seen that, as formally stated, it is either useless or fallacious: but those who also perceive its material grounds retain and defend it. In fact, great advantages are gained by stating an argument as a formal syllogism. For, in the first place, we can then examine separately the three conditions on which the validity of the argument depends:
(1) Are the Premises so connected that, if they are true, the Conclusion follows? This depends upon the formal principles of chap. x.
(2) Is the Minor Premise true? This question can only arise when the minor premise is a real proposition; and then it may be very difficult to answer. Water rusts iron; but is the metal we are now dealing with a fair specimen of iron? Few people, comparatively, know how to determine whether diamonds, or even gold or silver coins, are genuine. That Camels are ruminants is now a verbal proposition to a Zoologist, but not to the rest of us; and to the Zoologist the ascertaining of the relation in which camels stand to such ruminants as oxen and deer, was not a matter of analysing words but of dissecting specimens. What a long controversy as to whether the human race constitutes a Family of the Primates! That 'the British Empire is an empire' affords no matter for doubt or inquiry; but how difficult to judge whether the British Empire resembles Assyria, Egypt, Rome, Spain in those characters and circumstances that caused their downfall!
(3) Is the Major Premise true? Are all ruminants herbivorous? If there be any exceptions to the rule, camels are likely enough to be among the exceptions. And here the need of Inductive Logic is most conspicuous: how can we prove our premises when they are universal propositions? Universal propositions, however, are also involved in proving the minor premise: to prove a thing to be iron, we must know the constant reactions of iron.
A second advantage of the syllogism is, that it makes us fully aware of what an inference implies. An inference must have some grounds, or else it is a mere prejudice; but whatever the grounds, if sufficient in a particular case, they must be sufficient for all similar cases, they must admit of being generalised; and to generalise the grounds of the inference, is nothing else than to state the major premise. If the evidence is sufficient to justify the argument that camels are herbivorous because they are ruminants, it must also justify the major premise, All ruminants are herbivorous; for else the inference cannot really depend merely upon the fact of ruminating. To state our evidence syllogistically, then, must be possible, if the evidence is mediate and of a logical kind; and to state it in this formal way, as depending on the truth of a general principle (the major premise), increases our sense of responsibility for the inference that is thus seen to imply so much; and if any negative instances lie within our knowledge, we are the more likely to remember them. The use of syllogisms therefore tends to strengthen our reasonings.
A third advantage is, that to formulate an accurate generalisation may be useful to others: it is indeed part of the systematic procedure of science. The memoranda of our major premises, or reasons for believing anything, may be referred to by others, and either confirmed or refuted. When such a memorandum is used for further inferences, these inferences are said, in the language of Formal Logic, to be drawn from it, as if the conclusion were contained in our knowledge of the major premise; but, considering the limited extent of the material evidence, it is better to say that the inference is drawn according to the memorandum or major premise, since the grounds of the major premise and of the conclusion are in fact the same (Mill: Logic, B. II. c. 3). Inductive proofs may be stated in Syllogisms, and inductive inferences are drawn according to the Law of Causation.
Sec. 7. To assume that resemblance is a ground of inference, and that substance and attribute, or cause and effect, are phenomena constantly related, implies belief in the Uniformity of Nature. The Uniformity of Nature cannot be defined, and is therefore liable to be misunderstood. In many ways Nature seems not to be uniform: there is great variety in the sizes, shapes, colours and all other properties of things: bodies falling in the open air—pebbles, slates, feathers—descend in different lines and at different rates; the wind and weather are proverbially uncertain; the course of trade or of politics, is full of surprises. Yet common maxims, even when absurd, testify to a popular belief that the relations of things are constant: the doctrine of St. Swithin and the rhyme beginning 'Evening red and morning grey,' show that the weather is held to be not wholly unpredictable; as to human affairs, it is said that 'a green Yule makes a fat churchyard,' that 'trade follows the flag,' and that 'history repeats itself'; and Superstition knows that witches cannot enter a stable-door if a horse-shoe is nailed over it, and that the devil cannot cross a threshold inscribed with a perfect pentagram. But the surest proof of a belief in the uniformity of nature is given by the conduct of men and animals; by that adherence to habit, custom and tradition, to which in quiet times they chiefly owe their safety, but which would daily disappoint and destroy them, if it were not generally true that things may be found where they have been left and that in similar circumstances there are similar events.
Now this general belief, seldom distinctly conceived, for the most part quite unconscious (as a principle), merely implied in what men do, is also the foundation of all the Sciences; which are entirely occupied in seeking the Laws (that is, the Uniformities) of Nature. As the uniformity of nature cannot be defined, it cannot be proved; the most convincing evidence in its favour is the steady progress made by Science whilst trusting in it. Nevertheless, what is important is not the comprehensive but indeterminate notion of Uniformity so much as a number of First Principles, which may be distinguished in it as follows:
(1) The Principles of Contradiction and Excluded Middle (ch. vi. Sec. 3) declare that in a given relation to a given phenomenon any two or more other phenomena are incompatible (B is not A and a); whilst the given phenomenon either stands related to another phenomenon or not (B is either A or a). It is not only a matter of Logic but of fact that, if a leaf is green, it is not under the same conditions red or blue, and that if it is not green it is some other colour.
(2) Certain Axioms of Mediate Evidence: as, in Mathematics, 'that magnitudes equal to the same magnitude are equal to one another'; and, in Logic, the Dictum or its material equivalent.
(3) That all Times and all Spaces are commensurable; although in certain relations of space (as [pi]) the unit of measurement must be infinitely small.—If Time really trotted with one man and galloped with another, as it seems to; if space really swelled in places, as De Quincey dreamed that it did; life could not be regulated, experience could not be compared and science would be impossible. The Mathematical Axioms would then never be applicable to space or time, or to the objects or processes that fill them.
(4) The Persistence of Matter and Energy: the physical principle that, in all changes of the universe, the quantities of Matter and Energy (actual and potential, so-called) remain the same.—For example, as to matter, although dew is found on the grass at morning without any apparent cause, and although a candle seems to burn away to a scrap of blackened wick, yet every one knows that the dew has been condensed from vapour in the air, and that the candle has only turned into gas and smoke. As to energy, although a stone thrown up to the housetop and resting there has lost actual energy, it has gained such a position that the slightest touch may bring it to the earth again in the same time as it took to travel upwards; so on the house-top it is said to have potential energy. When a boiler works an engine, every time the piston is thrust forward (mechanical energy), an equivalent in heat (molecular energy) is lost. But for the elucidation of these principles, readers must refer to treatises of Chemistry and Physics.
(5) Causation, a special form of the foregoing principles of the persistence of matter and energy, we shall discuss in the next chapter. It is not to be conceived of as anything occult or noumenal, but merely as a special mode of the uniformity of Nature or experience.
(6) Certain Uniformities of Co-existence; but for want of a general principle of Co-existence, corresponding to Causation (the principle of Succession), we can only classify these uniformities as follows:
(a) The Geometrical; as that, in a four-sided figure, if the opposite angles are equal, the opposite sides are equal and parallel.—Countless similar uniformities of co-existence are disclosed by Geometry. The co-existent facts do not cause one another, nor are they jointly caused by something else; they are mutually involved: such is the nature of space.
(b) Universal co-inherences among the properties of concrete things.—The chief example is the co-inherence of gravity with inertia in all material bodies. There is, I believe, no other entirely satisfactory case; but some good approximations to such uniformity are known to physical science.
(c) Co-existence due to Causation; such as the positions of objects in space at any time.—The houses of a town are where they are, because they were put there; and they remain in their place as long as no other causes arise strong enough to remove or destroy them. Similarly, the relative positions of rocks in geological strata, and of trees in a forest, are due to causes.
(d) The co-inherence of properties in Natural Kinds; which we call the constitution, defining characters, or specific nature of such things.—Oxygen, platinum, sulphur and the other elements; water, common salt, alcohol and other compounds; the various species of plants and animals: all these are known to us as different groups of co-inherent properties. It may be conjectured that these groupings of properties are also due to causation, and sometimes the causes can be traced: but very often the causes are still unknown; and, until resolved into their causes, they must be taken as necessary data in the investigation of nature. Laws of the co-inherence of the properties of Kinds do not, like laws of causation, admit of methodical proof upon their own principles, but only by constancy in experience and statistical probability (c. xix, Sec. 4).
(e) There are also a few cases in which properties co-exist in an unaccountable way, without being co-extensive with any one species, genus, or order: as most metals are whitish, and scarlet flowers are wanting in fragrance. (On this Sec. 7, see Venn's Empirical Logic, c. 4.)
Sec. 8. Inasmuch as Axioms of Uniformity are ultimate truths, they cannot be deduced; and inasmuch as they are universal, no proof by experience can ever be adequate. The grounds of our belief in them seem to be these:
(1) Every inference takes for granted an order of Nature corresponding with it; and every attempt to explain the origin of anything assumes that it is the transformation of something else: so that uniformity of order and conservation of matter and energy are necessary presuppositions of reasoning.
(2) On the rise of philosophic reflection, these tacit presuppositions are first taken as dogmas, and later as postulates of scientific generalisation, and of the architectonic unification of science. Here they are indispensable.
(3) The presuppositions or postulates are, in some measure, verifiable in practical life and in scientific demonstration, and the better verifiable as our methods become more exact.
(4) There is a cause of this belief that cannot be said to contain any evidence for it, namely, the desire to find in Nature a foundation for confidence in our own power to foresee and to control events.
Sec. 1. For the theory of Induction, the specially important aspect of the Uniformity of Nature is Causation.
For (1) the Principles of Contradiction and Excluded Middle are implied in all logical operations, and need no further explication.
(2) That one thing is a mark of another or constantly related to it, must be established by Induction; and the surest of all marks is a Cause. So that the application of the axiom of the Syllogism in particular cases requires, when most valid, a previous appeal to Causation.
(3) The uniformity of Space and of Time is involved in Causation, so far as we conceive Causation as essentially matter in motion—for motion is only known as a traversing of space in time; and so far as forces vary in any way according to the distance between bodies; so that if space and time were not uniform, causation would be irregular. Not that time and space are agents, but they are conditions of every agent's operation.
(4) The persistence of Matter and Energy, being nothing else than Causation in the general movement of the world, is applied under the name of that principle in explaining any particular limited phenomenon, such as a soap-bubble, or a thunderstorm, or the tide.
(5) As to co-existences, the Geometrical do not belong to Logic: those involved in the existence of plants, animals, and inorganic bodies, must, as far as possible, be traced to causes; and so, of course, must the relative positions of objects in space at any time: and what Co-existences remain do not admit of methodical inductive treatment; they will be briefly discussed in chap. xix.
Causation, then, is that mode or aspect of the Uniformity of Nature which especially concerns us in Induction; and we must make it as definite as possible. It is nothing occult, but merely a convenient name for phenomena in a particular relation to other phenomena, called their effect. Similarly, if the word 'force' is sometimes used for convenience in analysing causation, it means nothing more than something in time and space, itself moving, or tending to move, or hindering or accelerating other things. If any one does not find these words convenient for the purpose, he can use others.
Sec. 2. A Cause, according to Mill, is "the invariable unconditional antecedent" of a given phenomenon. To enlarge upon this:
(1) A Cause is relative to a given phenomenon, called the Effect. Logic has no method for investigating the cause of the universe as a whole, but only of a part or epoch of it: we select from the infinite continuum of Nature any portion that is neither too large nor too small for a trained mind to comprehend. The magnitude of the phenomenon may be a matter of convenience. If the cause of disease in general be too wide a problem, can fevers be dealt with; or, if that be too much, is typhus within the reach of inquiry? In short, how much can we deal with accurately?
(2) The given phenomenon is always an event; that is to say, not a new thing (nothing is wholly new), but a change in something, or in the relative position of things. We may ask the cause of the phases of the moon, of the freezing of water, of the kindling of a match, of a deposit of chalk, of the differentiation of species. To inquire the cause of France being a republic, or Russia an autocracy, implies that these countries were once otherwise governed, or had no government: to inquire the cause of the earth being shaped like an orange, implies that the matter of the earth had once another shape.
(3) The Cause is antecedent to the Effect, which accordingly is often called its consequent. This is often misunderstood and sometimes disputed. It has been said that the meaning of 'cause' implies an 'effect,' so that until an effect occurs there can be no cause. But this is a blunder; for whilst the word 'cause' implies 'effect,' it also implies the relative futurity of the effect; and effect implies the relative priority of the cause. The connotation of the words, therefore, agrees well enough with Mill's doctrine. In fact, the danger is that any pair of contrasted words may suggest too strongly that the phenomena denoted are separate in Nature; whereas every natural process is continuous. If water, dripping from the roof wears away a stone, it fell on the roof as rain; the rain came from a condensing cloud; the cloud was driven by the wind from the sea, whence it exhaled; and so on. There is no known beginning to this, and no break in it. We may take any one of these changes, call it an effect, and ask for its cause; or call it a cause, and ask for its effect. There is not in Nature one set of things called causes and another called effects; but every change is both cause (or a condition) of the future and effect of the past; and whether we consider an event as the one or the other, depends upon the direction of our curiosity or interest.
Still, taking the event as effect, its cause is the antecedent process; or, taking it as a cause, its effect is the consequent process. This follows from the conception of causation as essentially motion; for that motion takes time is (from the way our perceptive powers grow) an ultimate intuition. But, for the same reason, there is no interval of time between cause and effect; since all the time is filled up with motion.
Nor must it be supposed that the whole cause is antecedent to the effect as a whole: for we often take the phenomenon on such a scale that minutes, days, years, ages, may elapse before we consider the cause as exhausted (e.g., an earthquake, a battle, an expansion of credit, natural selection operating on a given variety); and all that time the effect has been accumulating. But we may further consider such a cause as made up of moments or minute factors, and the effect as made up of corresponding moments; and then the cause, taken in its moments, is antecedent throughout to the effect, taken in its corresponding moments.
(4) The Cause is the invariable antecedent of the effect; that is to say, whenever a given cause occurs it always has the same effect: in this, in fact, consists the Uniformity of Causation. Accordingly, not every antecedent of an event is its Cause: to assume that it is so, is the familiar fallacy of arguing 'post hoc ergo propter hoc.' Every event has an infinite number of antecedents that have no ascertainable connection with it: if a picture falls from the wall in this room, there may have occurred, just previously, an earthquake in New Zealand, an explosion in a Japanese arsenal, a religious riot in India, a political assassination in Russia and a vote of censure in the House of Commons, besides millions of other less noticeable events, between none of which and the falling of the picture can any direct causation be detected; though, no doubt, they are all necessary occurrences in the general world-process, and remotely connected. The cause, however, was that a door slammed violently in the room above and shook the wall, and that the picture was heavy and the cord old and rotten. Even if two events invariably occur one after the other, as day follows night, or as the report follows the flash of a gun, they may not be cause and effect, though it is highly probable that they are closely connected by causation; and in each of these two examples the events are co-effects of a common cause, and may be regarded as elements of its total effect. Still, whilst it is not true that every antecedent, or that every invariable antecedent, of an event is its cause, the cause is conceived of as some change in certain conditions, or some state and process of things, such that should it exactly recur the same event would invariably follow. If we consider the antecedent state and process of things very widely or very minutely, it never does exactly recur; nor does the consequent. But the purpose of induction is to get as near the truth as possible within the limits set by our faculties of observation and calculation. Complex causal instances that are most unlikely to recur as a whole, may be analysed into the laws of their constituent conditions.
(5) The Cause is the Unconditional Antecedent. A cause is never simple, but may be analysed into several conditions; and 'Condition' means any necessary factor of a Cause: any thing or agent that exerts, absorbs, transforms, or deflects energy; or any relation of time or space in which agents stand to one another. A positive condition is one that cannot be omitted without frustrating the effect; a negative condition is one that cannot be introduced without frustrating the effect. In the falling of the picture, e.g., the positive conditions were the picture (as being heavy), the slamming of the door, and the weakness of the cord: a negative condition was that the picture should have no support but the cord. When Mill, then, defines the Cause of any event as its "unconditional" antecedent, he means that it is that group of conditions (state and process of things) which, without any further condition, is followed by the event in question: it is the least antecedent that suffices, positive conditions being present and negative absent.
Whatever item of the antecedent can be left out, then, without affecting the event, is no part of the cause. Earthquakes have happened in New Zealand and votes of censure in the House of Commons without a picture's falling in this room: they were not unconditional antecedents; something else was needed to bring down a picture. Unconditionality also distinguishes a true cause from an invariable antecedent that is only a co-effect: for when day follows night something else happens; the Earth rotates upon her axis: a flash of gunpowder is not an unconditional antecedent of a report; the powder must be ignited in a closed chamber.
By common experience, and more precisely by experiment, it is found possible to select from among the antecedents of an event a certain number upon which, so far as can be perceived, it is dependent, and to neglect the rest: to purge the cause of all irrelevant antecedents is the great art of inductive method. Remote or minute conditions may indeed modify the event in ways so refined as to escape our notice. Subject to the limitations of our human faculties, however, we are able in many cases to secure an unconditional antecedent upon which a certain event invariably follows. Everybody takes this for granted: if the gas will not burn, or a gun will not go off, we wonder 'what can be wrong with it,' that is, what positive condition is wanting, or what negative one is present. No one now supposes that gunnery depends upon those "remotest of all causes," the stars, or upon the sun being in Sagittarius rather than in Aquarius, or that one shoots straightest with a silver bullet, or after saying the alphabet backwards.
(6) That the Cause of any event is an Immediate Antecedent follows from its being an unconditional one. For if there are three events, A B C, causally connected, it is plain that A is not the unconditional antecedent of C, but requires the further condition of first giving rise to B. But that is not all; for the B that gives rise to C is never merely the effect of A; it involves something further. Take such a simple case as the motion of the earth round the sun (neglecting all other conditions, the other planets, etc.); and let the earth's motion at three successive moments be A B C: A is not the whole cause of B in velocity and direction; we must add relation to the sun, say x. But then, again, the cause of C will not be merely Bx, for the relation to the sun will have altered; so that we must represent it as Bx'. The series, therefore, is Ax Bx' C. What is called a "remote cause" is, therefore, doubly conditional; first, because it supposes an intervening cause; and secondly, because it only in part determines the conditions that constitute this intervening cause.
The immediacy of a cause being implied in its unconditionalness, is an important clue to it; but as far as the detection of causes depends upon sense-perception, our powers (however aided by instruments) are unequal to the subtlety of Nature. Between the event and what seems to us the immediate antecedent many things (molecular or etherial changes) may happen in Chemistry or Physics. The progress of science would be impossible were not observation supplemented by hypothesis and calculation. And where phenomena are treated upon a large scale, as in the biological and social sciences, immediacy, as a mark of causation, must be liberally interpreted. So far, then, as to the qualitative character of Causation.
(7) But to complete our account of it, we must briefly consider its quantitative character. As to the Matter contained, and as to the Energy embodied, Cause and Effect are conceived to be equal. As to matter, indeed, they may be more properly called identical; since the effect is nothing but the cause redistributed. When oxygen combines with hydrogen to form water, or with mercury to form red precipitate, the weight of the compound is exactly equal to the weight of the elements combined in it; when a shell explodes and knocks down a wall, the materials of the shell and wall are scattered about. As to energy, we see that in the heavenly bodies, which meet with no sensible impediment, it remains the same from age to age: with things 'below the moon' we have to allow for the more or less rapid conversion of the visible motion of a mass into other forms of energy, such as sound and heat. But the right understanding of this point involves physical considerations of some difficulty, as to which the reader must refer to appropriate books, such as Balfour Stewart's on The Conservation of Energy.
The comprehension of the quantitative aspect of causation is greatly aided by Bain's analysis of any cause into a 'Moving or an Inciting Power' and a 'Collocation' of circumstances. When a demagogue by making a speech stirs up a mob to a riot, the speech is the moving or inciting power; the mob already in a state of smouldering passion, and a street convenient to be wrecked, are the collocation. When a small quantity of strychnine kills a man, the strychnine is the inciting power; the nature of his nervo-muscular system, apt to be thrown into spasms by that drug, and all the organs of his body dependent on that system, are the collocation. Now any one who thinks only of the speech, or the drug, in these cases, may express astonishment at the disproportion of cause and effect:
"What great events from trivial causes spring!"
But, remembering that the whole cause of the riot included the excited mob, every one sees that its muscular power is enough to wreck a street; and remembering that breathing depends upon the normal action of the intercostal muscles, it is plain that if this action is stopped by strychnine, a man must die. Again, a slight rise of temperature may be a sufficient inciting power to occasion extensive chemical changes in a collocation of elements otherwise stable; a spark is enough to explode a powder magazine. Hence, when sufficient energy to account for any effect cannot be found in the inciting power, or manifestly active condition, we must look for it in the collocation which is often supposed to be passive.
And that reminds us of another common misapprehension, namely, that in Nature some things are passive and others active: the distinction between 'agent' and 'patient.' This is a merely relative distinction: in Nature all things are active. To the eye some things seem at rest and others in motion; but we know that nothing is really at rest, that everything palpitates with molecular change, and whirls with the planet through space. Everything that is acted upon reacts according to its own nature: the quietest-looking object (say, a moss-covered stone), if we try to push or lift it, pushes or pulls us back, assuring us that 'action and reaction are equal and opposite.' 'Inertia' does not mean want of vigour, but may be metaphorically described as the inexpugnable resolve of everything to have its own way.
The equality of cause and effect defines and interprets the unconditionality of causation. The cause, we have seen, is that group of conditions which, without any further condition, is followed by a given event. But how is such a group to be conceived? Unquantified, it admits only of a general description: quantified, it must mean a group of conditions equal to the effect in mass and energy, the essence of the physical world. Apparently, a necessary conception of the human mind: for if a cause seem greater than its effect, we ask what has become of the surplus matter and energy; or if an effect seem greater than its cause, we ask whence the surplus matter and energy has arisen. So convinced of this truth is every experimenter, that if his results present any deviation from it, he always assumes that it is he who has made some mistake or oversight, never that there is indeterminism or discontinuity in Nature.
The transformation of matter and energy, then, is the essence of causation: because it is continuous, causation is immediate; and because in the same circumstances the transformation always follows the same course, a cause has invariably the same effect. If a fire be lit morning after morning in the same grate, with coal, wood, and paper of the same quality and similarly arranged, there will be each day the same flaming of paper, crackling of wood and glowing of coal, followed in about the same time by the same reduction of the whole mass partly to ashes and partly to gases and smoke that have gone up the chimney. The flaming, crackling and glowing are, physically, modes of energy; and the change of materials into gas and ashes is a chemical and physical redistribution: and, if some one be present, he will be aware of all this; and then, besides the physical changes, there will be sensations of light, sound and heat; and these again will be always the same in the same circumstances.
The Cause of any event, then, when exactly ascertainable, has five marks: it is (quantitatively) equal to the effect, and (qualitatively) the immediate, unconditional, invariable antecedent of the effect.
Sec. 3. This scientific conception of causation has been developed and rendered definite by the investigations of those physical sciences that can avail themselves of exact experiments and mathematical calculation; and it is there, in Chemistry and Physics, that it is most at home. The conception can indeed be carried into the Biological and Social Sciences, even in its quantitative form, by making the proper allowances. For the limbs of animals are levers, and act upon mechanical principles; and digestion and the aeration of the blood by breathing are partly chemical processes. There is a quantitative relation between the food a man eats and the amount of work he can do. The numbers of any species of plant or animal depend upon the food supply. The value of a country's imports is equal to the value of its exports and of the services it renders to foreigners. But, generally, the less experiment and exact calculation are practicable in any branch of inquiry, the less rigorously can the conception of causation be applied there, the more will its application depend upon the qualitative marks, and the more need there will be to use it judiciously. In every inquiry the greatest possible precision must be aimed at; but it is unreasonable to expect in any case more precise proof than the subject admits of in the existing state of culture.
Wherever mental action is involved, there is a special difficulty in applying the physical notion of causation. For if a Cause be conceived of as matter in motion, a thought, or feeling, or volition can be neither cause nor effect. And since mental action is involved in all social affairs, and in the life of all men and animals, it may seem impossible to interpret social or vital changes according to laws of causation. Still, animals and men are moving bodies; and it is recognised that their thoughts and feelings are so connected with their movements and with the movements of other things acting upon them, that we can judge of one case by another; although the connection is by no means well understood, and the best words (such as all can agree to use) have not yet been found to express even what we know about it. Hence, a regular connection being granted, I have not hesitated, to use biological and social events and the laws of them, to illustrate causation and induction; because, though less exact than chemical or mechanical examples, they are to most people more familiar and interesting.
In practical affairs, it is felt that everything depends upon causation; how to play the fiddle, or sail a yacht, or get one's living, or defeat the enemy. The price of pig-iron six months hence, the prospects of the harvest, the issue in a Coroner's Court, Home Rule and Socialism, are all questions of causation. But, in such cases, the conception of a cause is rarely applied in its full scientific acceptation, as the unconditional antecedent, or 'all the conditions' (neither more nor less) upon which the event depends. This is not because men of affairs are bad logicians, or incapable of scientific comprehension; for very often the reverse is conspicuously true; but because practical affairs call for promptitude and a decisive seizing upon what is predominantly important. How learn to play the fiddle? "Go to a good teacher." (Then, beginning young enough, with natural aptitude and great diligence, all may be well.) How defeat the enemy? "Be two to one at the critical juncture." (Then, if the men are brave, disciplined, well armed and well fed, there is a good chance of victory.) Will the price of iron improve? "Yes: for the market is oversold": (that is, many have sold iron who have none to deliver, and must at some time buy it back; and that will put up the price—if the stock is not too great, if the demand does not fall off, and if those who have bought what they cannot pay for are not in the meanwhile obliged to sell.) These prompt and decisive judgments (with the parenthetic considerations unexpressed) as to what is the Cause, or predominantly important condition, of any event, are not as good as a scientific estimate of all the conditions, when this can be obtained; but, when time is short, the insight of trained sagacity may be much better than an imperfect theoretical treatment of such problems.