Consequence and ‘Cause’: Thirteenth-Century Reflections on the Nature of Consequences

In: Vivarium
Joke Spruyt Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University The Netherlands

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Thirteenth-century views on consequences have not yet received much attention. Authors of this period deserve closer scrutiny, because of their profound interest in the nature of consequence. The fundamental feature of a consequence was captured in the claim that its antecedent is the cause of its consequent. At the same time authors systematically discussed consequences in terms of truth-preservation. This paper considers the requirements of syllogistic argument and consequences in general, including the role of ‘cause’ in the identification of syllogisms proper, looks at different descriptions of consequence, moves on to discussions of the syncategorema ‘si’ – in syncategoremata treatises by Peter of Spain, Henry of Ghent, Nicholas of Paris and William of Sherwood, as well as some sophismata tracts – and explores what thirteenth-century authors make of the truth-functional characterisation of consequence, showing how it clashes with the authors’ insistence on a causal connection between antecedent and consequent.

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