A FORTIORI LOGIC
A Fortiori Logic: Innovations, History and Assessments, by Avi Sion, is a wide-ranging and in-depth study of a fortiori reasoning, comprising a great many new theoretical insights into such argument, a history of its use and discussion from antiquity to the present day, and critical analyses of the main attempts at its elucidation. Its purpose is nothing less than to lay the foundations for a new branch of logic and greatly develop it; and thus to once and for all dispel the many fallacious ideas circulating regarding the nature of a fortiori reasoning.
The work is divided into three parts. The first part, Formalities, presents the author’s largely original theory of a fortiori argument, in all its forms and varieties. Its four (or eight) principal moods are analyzed in great detail and formally validated, and secondary moods are derived from them. A crescendo argument is distinguished from purely a fortiori argument, and similarly analyzed and validated. These argument forms are clearly distinguished from the pro rata and analogical forms of argument. Moreover, we examine the wide range of a fortiori argument; the possibilities of quantifying it; the formal interrelationships of its various moods; and their relationships to syllogistic and analogical reasoning. Although a fortiori argument is shown to be deductive, inductive forms of it are acknowledged and explained. Although a fortiori argument is essentially ontical in character, more specifically logical-epistemic and ethical-legal variants of it are acknowledged.
The second part of the work, Ancient and Medieval History, looks into use and discussion of a fortiori argument in Greece and Rome, in the Talmud, among post-Talmudic rabbis, and in Christian, Moslem, Chinese and Indian sources. Aristotle’s approach to a fortiori argument is described and evaluated. There is a thorough analysis of the Mishnaic qal vachomer argument, and a reassessment of the dayo principle relating to it, as well as of the Gemara’s later take on these topics. The valuable contribution, much later, by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto is duly acknowledged. Lists are drawn up of the use of a fortiori argument in the Jewish Bible, the Mishna, the works of Plato and Aristotle, the Christian Bible and the Koran; and the specific moods used are identified. Moreover, there is a pilot study of the use of a fortiori argument in the Gemara, with reference to Rodkinson’s partial edition of the Babylonian Talmud, setting detailed methodological guidelines for a fuller study. There is also a novel, detailed study of logic in general in the Torah.
The third part of the present work, Modern and Contemporary Authors, describes and evaluates the work of numerous (some thirty) recent contributors to a fortiori logic, as well as the articles on the subject in certain lexicons. Here, we discover that whereas a few authors in the last century or so made some significant contributions to the field, most of them shot woefully off-target in various ways. The work of each author, whether famous or unknown, is examined in detail in a dedicated chapter, or at least in a section; and his ideas on the subject are carefully weighed. The variety of theories that have been proposed is impressive, and stands witness to the complexity and elusiveness of the subject, and to the crying need for the present critical and integrative study. But whatever the intrinsic value of each work, it must be realized that even errors and lacunae are interesting because they teach us how not to proceed.
This book also contains, in a final appendix, some valuable contributions to general logic, including new analyses of symbolization and axiomatization, existential import, the tetralemma, the Liar paradox and the Russell paradox.