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A Hexagon of Opposition for the Theism/Atheism Debate

  • Lorenz Demey


Burgess-Jackson has recently suggested that (the logical structure underlying) the debate between theism and atheism can be represented by means of a classical square of opposition. However, in light of the important role that the position of agnosticism plays in Burgess-Jackson’s analysis, it is quite surprising that this position is not represented in the proposed square of opposition. I therefore argue that the square of opposition should be extended to a slightly larger, more complex Aristotelian diagram, viz., a hexagon of opposition. Since this hexagon does represent the position of agnosticism (and its Aristotelian relations to the original positions of theism and atheism that are already present in the square), it arguably yields a more helpful representation of (Burgess-Jackson’s analysis of) the theism/atheism debate (e.g., concerning the distinction between positive atheism and negative atheism). It would be naïve to presume that Aristotelian diagrams can, by themselves, lead to a comprehensive solution of debates as intricate as that between theism and atheism. Nevertheless, this paper aims to show that these diagrams — especially if they are chosen carefully — have an important methodological role to play, by systematically organizing and clarifying the debate.


Theism Atheism Agnosticism Square of opposition Hexagon of opposition Aristotelian diagram 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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