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William Wians

In his fine paper on the aims of Aristotle’s methods, Sean Kirkland suggests that Aristotle practiced a proto-phenomenological approach to truth. In doing so, Kirkland reminds us of the lived dimension of Aristotle’s philosophizing, an active and ongoing response to the world that begins long before the emergence of philosophical concepts and systems. I am in sympathy with much of what Kirkland argues. However, I think more needs to be said about the relationship between dialectic and demonstration, and about the precise nature of dialectic itself, which Aristotle characterizes as a form of deductive argument, rather than the loose collection of inductive techniques implied by Kirkland. Aristotle shows a remarkable sensitivity to the complexity of searching for principles, and the variety of means by which the search is conducted, implying a need for a discourse on methods, though he himself supplies it only unsystematically. 

William Prior


Since Peter Geach coined the phrase in 1966 there has been much discussion among scholars of the "Socratic fallacy." No consensus presently exists on whether Socrates commits the "Socratic fallacy"; almost all scholars agree, however, that the "Socratic fallacy" is a bad thing and that Socrates has good reason to avoid it. I think that this consensus of scholars is mistaken. I think that what Geach has labeled a fallacy is no fallacy at all, but a perfectly innocent consequence of Platonic epistemology. The "Socratic fallacy" arises from the "Priority of Definition" principle (PD). Plato is committed to (PD) in the Meno. The Meno also contains a famous discussion of the difference between episteme and doxa (97a ff.). If we understand what Plato meant by episteme we can see that he must be committed to (PD); but we can also see that (PD) has none of the harmful consequences Geach attributes to it. Geach's view is indebted to Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. (PD) is implausible on this reading of the verb "to know," but not on Plato's. Plato claims that a demand for an explanation is appropriate wherever a claim to knowledge is made. Plato links the concept of episteme explicitly with the concept of logos; the connection between the terms may have been analytic. It does not follow from the Platonic conception of knowledge, as Geach argues, that it is "no use" using examples to establish general definitions. All that follows is that one cannot know that an alleged example of a term T is a genuine example until one has a general account of what it is to be T. Without the stronger conclusion, Geach cannot establish that the "Socratic fallacy" is a fallacy.

William Charlton

William Charlton