The medieval theory of consequence

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The recovery of Aristotle’s logic during the twelfth century was a great stimulus to medieval thinkers. Among their own theories developed to explain Aristotle’s theories of valid and invalid reasoning was a theory of consequence, of what arguments were valid, and why. By the fourteenth century, two main lines of thought had developed, one at Oxford, the other at Paris. Both schools distinguished formal from material consequence, but in very different ways. In Buridan and his followers in Paris, formal consequence was that preserved under uniform substitution. In Oxford, in contrast, formal consequence included analytic consequences such as ‘If it’s a man, then it’s an animal’. Aristotle’s notion of syllogistic consequence was subsumed under the treatment of formal consequence. Buridan developed a general theory embracing the assertoric syllogism, the modal syllogism and syllogisms with oblique terms. The result was a thoroughly systematic and extensive treatment of logical theory and logical consequence which repays investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-912
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Aristotle
  • Ockham
  • Buridan
  • Signification
  • Syllogism
  • Modality
  • Formal
  • Material


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