Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Logical Properties of Terms

As employed or found in the sentence, terms have the following functions or roles; supposition and appellation. Supposition and appellation in modern terminology is called as logical or philosophical semantics. Semantics is the science of the meanings of words, as distinguished from phonetics which is the science of the sounds of words.


Supposition may be taken either as the function whereby a term stands for a meaning in the proposition, or it may be taken for the meaning itself for which the term stands (for from the Latin supponere, “to substitute”). It is this meaning with which we are now concerned. For, whereas a term may have several different meaning in the dictionary, when employed in a sentence it is used to bear one meaning only.

Supposition may be classified:


The supposition is:

Real - when the term designates something found in the external world; E.g. the Republic of the Philippines.

Logical or Conceptual – when the term designates some product of the mind; E.g. ¾. Under this conceptual category, the supposition may also be ideological, mathematical, superstitious, hypothetical, fictitious, etc. as the designated conceptual object may be.

Metaphorical – when the term designates another thing aside from its literal meaning, from the formal resemblance of the former to the latter; E.g. the Stars and Stripes, namely, the American Nation; Mr. Juan de la Cruz, namely, the common Filipino.


The supposition is:

Individual – when the term denotes a definite individual; E.g. the President of the First Philippine Republic;

Universal – when the term denotes distributively all the individuals of the expressed nature or category, or when the term designates a universal formal reason or a universal individual; E.g. men are progressive beings; drunkenness is not a virtue, whereas temperance is; man is mortal. – observe that a grammatically singular term may have a universal supposition.

Particular – when the term denotes only a part of the extension of the universal; E.g. some students are lazy; men (not all but most) are stronger than women (not all but most); men are less emotional than women. – observe that a grammatically plural term may have a particular supposition.

Collection – when the term designates a group, or individuals as constituting a group; E.g. the TTMIST computer hackers team; the SCUAA team.


The supposition is:

Material – when the term denotes the subject expressed, merely as identified by the quality, form or nature expressed, but not as qualified by it; e.g. the physician sing, or killed a man. He does so not is his capacity as physician but as a human being.

Formal – inasmuch as the term stands for a subject as identified and qualified by the nature or qualification expressed. E.g. this physician has healed many patients. He did so in his capacity as physician.


The supposition is:

Precise – when the term bears only one meaning in the proposition. E.g. I am a Filipino citizen.

Ambiguous – when the term beards several possible meanings in the sentence. E.g. the UST Medical team has arrived. It may mean the playing team, or the professional team. Although the speaker may have definite meaning in his mind yet the listeners is not sure of it.

Proper – when the term stands for its proper object. E.g. Calbayog is the only city in Western Samar.

Figurative – when the term stands for another thing that it suggest. E.g. the Vatican has banned the use of the Contraceptive Pill. CMIT did a gift giving activity.


Sometimes the extent of the supposition of a term does not appear at first glance as we have seen in the examples given. In order to determine the supposition of such term, the following are some general rules obtained from the analysis of the given examples:

1. The extension of the supposition of the subject must be determined from the precise meaning it has in the sentence. E.g., Man is a corruptible being, mean all men distributively.

2. The predicate in an affirmative proposition, whether the proposition is universal or particular, has particular supposition. E.g., mean are mortal (there are other mortal beings aside from men); women are very talkative (there are also men who are talkative than that of women).

Exceptions to this rule are instances in which the predicate is the definition of a universal subject, or the specific part of its definition, or a property of the universal nature of the subject; e.g. man is a rational being. Take note that only man is a rational being.

3. The predicate in a negative proposition, whether the proposition is universal or particular, has universal supposition; e.g. men are not angels; some students are not intelligent.

4. A change or shift in the supposition of an apparently identical term introduces surreptitiously four conceptual terms in a syllogism, which apparently employs only three terms. The syllogism becomes fallacious.


All plants grow.

Atqui, ice plant is a plant.

Ergo, ice plant grows.


Appellation literally means the calling of an object. In logic it means the function of a term denominating another term; or conversely, the denomination of a term by another. The denominating term is called the appellant; the denominated term is called the appellate. E.g. A wise (appellant) philosopher (appellate).

When an appellating term is applied to a concrete term, it may affect: a) the subject only as identified by the feature or nature expressed, although not as qualified by it; e.g. a good carpenter, i.e., a good man, although he may not be excellent in carpentry: or b) the subject as identified and qualified by the feature or nature expressed: e.g., a good carpenter, i.e., one who is expert in carpentry.


Material – when the appellant is applied to the subject only as identified by the feature or nature expressed, but not classified by it. E.g. a poor philosopher, that is, a financially hard up man who is a philosopher.

Formal – when the appellant is applied to the subject as identified and qualified by the feature or nature expressed. E.g. a poor philosopher, that is, one who is not adept in philosophy.

Precise – when the sense of the appellation is definite and clear. E.g. excellent students are assets to the school.

Imprecise – when the sense of the appellation is not definite and clear. E.g. poor students are burden to the school. It may mean financially poor, or academically poor students.

Remarks – a shift or change in appellation changes also makes four terms in a syllogism which apparently emplies only three terms.


a good artist is an expert performer.

But, Pedro is a good artist (a good man)

Therefore, Pedro is a an expert performer. (it does not follow)