, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 213–232 | Cite as

What is a Sophistical Refutation?



From Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations the following classifications are put forward and defended through extensive excerpts from the text. (AR-PFC) All sophistical refutations are exclusively either ‘apparent refutations’ or ‘proofs of false conclusions’. (AR-F) ‘Apparent refutations’ and ‘fallacies’ name the same thing. (ID-ED) All fallacies are exclusively either fallacies in dictione or fallacies extra dictionem. (ID-nAMB) Not all fallacies in dictione are due to ambiguity. (AMB-nID) Not all fallacies due to ambiguity are fallacies in dictione. (AMB&ID-ME) The set of fallacies due to ambiguity and fallacies in dictione together comprise the set of arguments said to be “dependent on mere expression”. Being “dependent on mere expression” and “dependent on language” are not the same (instances of the latter form a proper subset of instances of the former). (nME-FACT) All arguments that are not against the expression are “against the fact.” (FACT-ED) All fallacious arguments against the fact are fallacies extra dictionem (it is unclear whether the converse is true). (MAN-ARG) The solutions of fallacious arguments are exclusively either “against the man” or “against the argument.” (10) (F-ARG) Each (type of) fallacy has a unique solution (namely, the opposite of whatever causes the fallacy), but each fallacious argument does not. However, each fallacious argument does have a unique solution against the argument, called the ‘true solution’ (in other words, what fallacy a fallacious argument commits is determined by how it is solved. However, if the solution is ‘against the man’ then this is not, properly speaking, the fallacy committed in the argument. It is only the ‘true solution’—the solution against the argument, of which there is always only one—that determines the fallacy actually committed).


Sophistical refutations Aristotle Fallacies 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Filosofie da Linguagem, FCSH, Universidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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