Enthymeme

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An enthymeme (Greek: ἐνθύμημα, enthumēma), is an informally stated syllogism (a three-part deductive argument) with an unstated assumption that must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion. In an enthymeme, part of the argument is missing because it is assumed.

In another broader usage, the term "enthymeme" is sometimes used to describe an incomplete argument of forms other than the syllogism,[1] or a less-than-100% argument.[2]

Informal syllogism[edit]

Here is an example of an informal syllogism, an enthymeme:

The complete formal syllogism would be the classic:
All humans are mortal. (major premise - assumed)
Socrates is human. (minor premise - stated)
Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (conclusion - stated)

While syllogisms lay out all of their premises and conclusion explicitly, enthymemes keep at least one of the premises or conclusion unsaid. The assertions left unsaid are intended to be so obvious as to not need stating.[3]

Advice is given freely because so much of it is worthless.

Here it is an explicit premise that 1) advice is given freely. But an implicit premise is that all worthless things are given away freely.

Here is an example of a "a less-than-100% argument" stated by George Bernard Shaw:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.
The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

While all the premises are true, it is arguable that a man is "unreasonable" because he is trying to change the world.

Maxim, or a less-than-100% argument[edit]

Klamer et al. argue that Aristotle also addressed enthymemes as maxims:

"Aristotle noted that most arguments take the form of an 'enthymeme' ('EN-thu-miem'), an incomplete or not-quite-air-tight syllogism. 'Free trade is good' or 'Taxes reduce output' are enthymemes, not-syllogistic arguments. The average French economist may find such arguments 45 percent true, whereas the average American economist may find them 80 percent true. Arguing an enthymeme is successful when the economist defends the 45 or 80 percent true as 'true enough.' Economics, like other sciences, works in approximations."[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Audi, R. (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy - 2nd ed., pp. 257, 267. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  2. ^ a b Klamer, Arjo; McCloskey, Deirdre N. and Ziliak, Stephen (18 May 2007). "Is There Life after Samuelson's Economics? Changing the Textbooks". Post-Autistic Economics Review (Post-autistic Economics Network) (42): 2–7. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  3. ^ Aristotle's Rhetoric (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  4. ^ My Aphorisms - James Geary.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Audi, R. (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy - 2nd ed., pp. 257, 267. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  2. ^ a b Klamer, Arjo; McCloskey, Deirdre N. and Ziliak, Stephen (18 May 2007). "Is There Life after Samuelson's Economics? Changing the Textbooks". Post-Autistic Economics Review (Post-autistic Economics Network) (42): 2–7. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  3. ^ Aristotle's Rhetoric (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  4. ^ My Aphorisms - James Geary.