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This article examines two syllogistic arguments contrasted in an ancient Chinese book, the Mozi, which expounds doctrines of the Mohist school of philosophers. While the arguments seem to have the same form, one of them (the one-horse argument) is valid but the other (the two-horse argument) is not. To explain this difference, the article uses English plural constructions to formulate the arguments. Then it shows that the one-horse argument is valid because it has a valid argument form, the plural cousin of a standard form of valid categorical syllogisms (Plural Barbara), and argues that the two-horse argument involves equivocal uses of a key predicate (the Chinese counterpart of ‘have four feet’) that has the distributive/nondistributive ambiguity. In doing so, the article discusses linguistic differences between Chinese and English and explains why the logic of plural constructions is applicable to Chinese arguments that involve no plural constructions.

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The Review of Symbolic Logic
  • ISSN: 1755-0203
  • EISSN: 1755-0211
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