Granting Premises

In some cases, when proper premises or assumptions have been granted, there results something untrue. Yet, nonetheless, it does logically result. What then ought I to do? Ought I to admit the falsehood? And how is that possible? Well, should I say that I did not properly grant that which we agreed upon? "But you are not allowed to do even this." Shall I then say that the consequence does not arise through what has been conceded? "But this is not allowed either." What then must be done in this case? Consider this argument as an example: "to have borrowed is not enough to make a man still a debtor, but to this must be added the fact that he continues to owe the money and that the debt is not paid." So it is not enough to compel you to admit the inference that you have granted the premises, but you must abide by what you have granted.

Epictetus is laying the ground rules of logical discussion here. He says that the complete facts must be laid out for a statement to be admitted to be true. We need not admit to a premise merely because our opponent pressures us to do so. But once we grant a premise we must take it to its logical conclusion.

Chapter 7:

  1. On Sophistry
  2. The End Proposed in Reasoning (7a)
  3. Why Stoics Learn to Argue (7b)
  4. Granting Premises (7c)
  5. Inferences (7d)
  6. Wise Men Should Argue (7e)
  7. A Syllogistic Crime (7f)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus

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