The Review of Symbolic Logic

Research Article



a1 University of Hamburg


Since Frege’s predicate logical transcription of Aristotelian categorical logic, the standard semantics of Aristotelian logic considers terms as standing for sets of individuals. From a philosophical standpoint, this extensional model poses problems: There exist serious doubts that Aristotle’s terms were meant to refer always to sets, that is, entities composed of individuals. Classical philosophy up to Leibniz and Kant had a different view on this question—they looked at terms as standing for concepts (“Begriffe”). In 1972, Corcoran presented a formal system for Aristotelian logic containing a calculus of natural deduction, while, with respect to semantics, he still made use of an extensional interpretation. In this paper we deal with a simple intensional semantics for Corcoran’s syntax—intensional in the sense that no individuals are needed for the construction of a complete Tarski model of Aristotelian syntax. Instead, we view concepts as containing or excluding other, “higher” concepts—corresponding to the idea which Leibniz used in the construction of his characteristic numbers. Thus, this paper is an addendum to Corcoran’s work, furnishing his formal syntax with an adequate semantics which is free from presuppositions which have entered into modern interpretations of Aristotle’s theory via predicate logic.

(Received July 17 2009)