Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix on Topics, Fallacies, and Method - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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Appendix on Topics, Fallacies, and Method - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Appendix on Topics, Fallacies, and Method
The doctrine of topics, which should not perhaps be ignored by orators, who often have to marshal a large array of arguments to create or confirm belief, is not so useful for logicians, whose art aims chiefly at developing or teaching sciences in which nothing further needs to be added to any valid argument.1 In any case, topics are “certain general heads of arguments, or the names of the genera in which they are found.” Each science or art has its own topics, together with the actual [art] of teaching them. Only the broadest genera need to be treated by the logician.
I. The topics of grammar are drawn either from the meanings of words or from etymological connections; critics have further [topics], which are the rules of interpretation.
II. The topics of logic are:
1. From definition: what the definition agrees with, that also the thing defined agrees with, and vice versa. What the definition does not agree with, neither does the thing defined [agree with], and vice versa.
2. From division (which are also the topics from the genus): (i) A logical part being posited, i.e., a species, the whole too is posited, i.e., the genus, but not the other way about: He is a man, therefore also an animal. (ii) Another topic is the dictum de omni et nullo. (iii) What may be predicated of individual parts, is true of the whole, if something is not collectively negatived; or negation of parts affects the totality or whole number.2
3. From genus and species: (i) when the species is posited, the genus is posited, and (ii) when the genus is removed, the species is removed; but neither will hold vice versa.
4. From differentia and property: (i) With whatever either one of these agrees under the same nearest genus, the species also agrees, and vice versa. (ii) Anything of which either one is denied, the species is also denied of it.
5. From accident: when an accident is posited, a substance is posited, but not vice versa.
6. From things which are opposed, whether complexly or incomplexly. The rules given above are so many topics.
III. Metaphysical topics:
1. From the whole and the part: when a physical whole is posited, all the combined parts [of it] are posited, and when these are posited and combined, the whole is posited.
2. The part is less than the whole both in quantity and dignity. Topics here may include those from definition, genus and species, depending upon different understandings (acceptio) of the whole. Metaphysical topics also include all the axioms about efficient causes.
IV. Ethical topics are nearly all ends, especially ultimate ends, but there are also the different species of the fitting and the good; and when we learn these from the topics, we also learn the virtues, duties, natural laws, and different degrees of goodness and badness. Arguments are also drawn from men’s appetites and from natural desires to demonstrate laws and to dissect questions of fact, since all plans of action derive from these. The axioms are as follows:
(1) The more that dispositions, intentions, and habits of mind contribute to human advantage, the better they are. And (2) the more they facilitate the assaults of evil, so much the worse they are. (3) Things which are commended by men’s higher desires, which are more proper to man, and which exercise the faculties which are proper to man, are better than those which we share with the beasts. (4) All things gentler and kindlier are, other things being equal, more worthy of a good man, all contrary things are unworthy, and so on.
In questions of fact we should chiefly look at the Cassian query: “Who benefits?”3 These are the axioms: (1) No one is gratuitously either bad or deceitful. (2) No one deliberately acts against the obvious advantage of himself and his own, except in hope of a greater advantage or from a specially strong sense of duty. (3) No sane man, however evil, attempts to deceive, when he has no reason to expect that his deceit will succeed. (4) No sane man is mistaken in things which are exposed to a long and full scrutiny by his senses.
V. The topics of physics are also “from ends,” for the perfect work whether of nature or of art which is that which is most suited to the ends it sets itself. We make best progress in the knowledge of things by combining experiments and geometrical reasoning.
On Fallacies and Sophisms
I. The causes of errors lie either in the will or in the understanding, though the understanding is also to some extent influenced by defects of the will.
[Errors] of the [will] are haste or rashness, bad passions and emotions. For where there is no sincere zeal to know the truth and a love of goodness, a man will soon tire of careful and painstaking inquiry; he will turn his mind to other pursuits or pleasures, content with an immediate appearance of truth, however deceptive. Where there is party zeal or pride or indolence, men will remain stuck in their childhood prejudices or in the opinions favored by the sect to which they have attached themselves, and assail with senseless passion all those who hold contrary opinions, however innocent those opinions may be and truer than their own. When a man anticipates honor or riches from a vigorous defense of his sect, oil is poured on the flames; and the arrogance of a proud person is deeply wounded if anyone who disagrees with him assumes he has deeper insight, and appears to be accusing him of ignorance or low intelligence.
Men are also too quick to take up beliefs which contribute to their own advantage or pleasure; arguments in the other direction are either ignored or weighed on an unequal balance.
II. The causes of the errors which afflict the understanding are slowness of mind (which however can be quite well remedied by hard work) and the deceptive appearances of things. Deceptive appearances are either axioms or principles, rashly picked up and not always true, or terms which are confused, or of indeterminate meaning, and frequently altered without our knowledge. These are the sources of fallacious arguments or sophisms.
Paralogisms openly err in the form itself. Sophisms seem to retain legitimate form, but contain either false or ambiguous propositions or conceal a fault of form under a misleading veil of words.
III. The Aristotelians count thirteen classes of sophisms, six in diction and seven outside of diction.4 Of sophisms in language, the first and second are equivocations in words, or ambiguities in expression or speech. Casual equivocations do not even deceive children, but confused terms may deceive even the learned: this is the great value of definitions.
The third and fourth [linguistic sophisms] proceed from a divided sense to a compound sense, or from a compound sense to a divided [sense]. Thus it would be wrong to infer that the wicked are approved by God, or that God delights in them while their wickedness persists, [simply] because they please him when their character changes, or that the blind can see or the deaf hear, because they can do so when cured.
The fifth and sixth are sophisms of nuance, or figurative expression, which will not deceive anyone unless he is very careless.
IV. The seven fallacies outside of diction are these:
1. From the accident to the thing itself. Thus the Epicureans badly argued that God has a form because neither virtue nor reason is seen without form; it is also incorrect to condemn all use of wine and all civil power because serious evils arise from their abuse.
2. From the qualified statement to the simple statement. Thus it would be wrong to infer that reasoning, discourse, and restraint of emotions should be ascribed to God because they are perfections and virtues; or to argue that because these things cannot be ascribed to God, therefore there is not in God every virtue and perfection. Riches do harm to the wicked; therefore they are simply bad in their kind.
3.Ignoratio elenchi occurs when one believes that a dispute can be resolved by proving something about which both sides agree. Thus, they will say that all the pagans will perish for ever, because no one can be saved except through Christ, when what needed to be proved was that no one could be saved through Christ who did not know him. Thus some men attempt to show that taking up arms against tyrants is always wicked, because it is illicit to resist a legitimate ruler.
4. Not causes for cause: for example, nature everywhere abhors a vacuum; therefore water in pumps will rise to any height you please. Seditions and factions are more frequent in free states; therefore liberty must be proscribed. Greed and many other evils arise from private property; therefore it is desirable to have community of property. Any free man will make mistakes in using his own judgment; therefore it is not to be permitted.
5. The fallacy of the consequent. Examples of this even include mistakes by quite learned people: bodies projected directly upward fall straight back to the place from which they were projected; therefore the earth does not move: and a thousand others.
6.Petitio principii, when what has to be proved is assumed as given. For example, the following “proof ” of the Ptolemaic system: the center of the universe is the point to which all things are borne by their own weight; but all things that we see are borne toward the earth; therefore, etc.
7. The fallacy of more than one question, of which examples are afforded by questions about exclusive, inceptive, and desitive5 propositions.
On Method and Logical Practice
I.6 One method is the way of discovery, which is also called the analytic [method]; the other is the way of teaching, and is the synthetic [method]. Both may be either professional and academic, or public and popular.
The analytic [method], beginning from consideration of singular or more complex [things], or from effects or from a proposed end, proceeds to general, simple [things], to causes, means, and origins. The synthetic [method] proceeds in the opposite order, from the latter to the former.
Principles of knowledge are included among causes, as well as what are properly called causes of being.
The synthetic [method] first proposes definitions, then postulates and axioms, and simpler and easier propositions; and when these have been proved, it proceeds by way of them to more complex and difficult [propositions], following the rules of demonstration given above. Writers of geometry afford examples of both methods.
II. Logical practice consists in the treatment of themes.7
A theme is anything that can be put forward for the understanding to grasp. It is either simple, or a term of some kind; or it is complex, that is, a proposition or statement which has to be confirmed or explained.
In treating a simple theme, (1) we must first explain the origin of a complex word or term and its different meanings and particularly the sense which we want, then (2) its essential attributes, whether primary or secondary, and its more prominent accidents. (3) We must also discuss their origin and end and their causes, if the subject allows it, and (4) the relations existing between it and other things. (5) It is to be divided into its parts, either logical or physical, if there are any.
III. The treatment of a complex theme is either solo or social.8 The solo treatment consists either of exegesis or of analysis. There is exegesis of the proposition or illustration of its effect, and there is confirmation. There is analysis of the exegesis or the resolution into its parts of a longer piece which someone else has written, and its explication.
There are three chief parts of exegesis: (1) paraskeue or preparation, which explains the terms of the question, settles its status, and puts forward the major opinions of the learned. (2) There is kataskeue, or confirmation, which chooses the true view and confirms it by the best arguments, rebuts counterarguments, and cites the testimonies of learned men. (3) And finally there is anaskeue, which dissolves objections and either claims for the speaker’s side, or modestly refutes, the testimonies of famous men which seem to oppose it. Sometimes we should preface it all with a proparaskeue about the importance and occasion of the question; and sometimes there is an episkeue attached, which gives a summing-up, together with useful corollaries. But above all the rules, we should listen to the poet’s [advice]:
Take material, you who write, equal to your powers; and ponder for a long time what your shoulders can bear and what they refuse to bear: if a man has chosen his subject effectively, eloquence will not desert him nor lucid order fail him.9
It is the function of an analysis to demonstrate in a given piece all these parts of exegesis and to explain them, or at least to reveal the true sense of the writer. One must therefore look at: (1) Who is speaking? (2) what about? (3) with what purpose and intention? (4) to whom? And (5) on what occasion? Finally, accounts should be given of the antecedents and consequents.
In treating a complex theme with a companion, or in disputation, the rules to be observed are easy and well known, and swiftly learned by practice.10
A Synopsis of Metaphysics Comprehending ONTOLOGY and PNEUMATOLOGY
[1 ]Hutcheson’s examination of “topics” (treated at length by Aristotle: see Organon, II, pp. 357-540) appears rather to have been an abridgment of the treatment of this subject in Arnauld, The Art of Thinking, pt. 3, chap. 18, pp. 240-46, where topics taken from grammar, logic, and metaphysics were summarized. Hutcheson’s presentation added a fourth and a fifth set of topics, taken from ethics and physics.
[2 ]The numbers assigned topics 3, 4, 5, and 6 follow “Logica,” pp. 45-46. In the 1756 edition, these topics were numbered 4, 5, 6, 7; there was no number 3.
[3 ]Cui bono? “For whose good?” “Who benefits?” This is the question which L. Cassius Longinus (consul, 127 ) used to ask when sitting as a judge. The main source is Cicero, Pro Sexto Roscio Amerino 30 (84), in vol. 6, The Speeches.
[4 ]Aristotle, “The Sophistical Elenchi,” in Organon, II, pp. 540-608; Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium, III, 28, pp. 206-10, and III, 29, pp. 210-16.
[5 ]See Part II, chap. 5, p. 28, n. 8.
[6 ]The divisions of this chapter (I, II, III) derive from “Logica,” pp. 54-58. In the published text (1756) only Section II was marked.
[7 ]Hutcheson’s treatment of themes and of the rules for considering a simple theme rehearse the observations made on this subject by Gershom Carmichael, “A Short Introduction to Logic,” chap. 4, sec. 2, in Natural Rights, pp. 309-11.
[8 ]Hutcheson’s remarks on the solo treatment of a complex theme again reflect Carmichael’s observations in “A Short Introduction to Logic,” chap. 4, sec. 3, Natural Rights, pp. 311-12.
[9 ]From Horace, Ars Poetica, ll. 38-41, in Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica, p. 452.
[10 ]See Carmichael, “A Short Introduction to Logic,” chap. 4, sec. 4, in Natural Rights, pp. 312-15.