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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 51$
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Victor Caston

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795797.001.0001

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Justification ‘By Argument’ in Aristotle’s Natural Science

Justification ‘By Argument’ in Aristotle’s Natural Science

(p.119) Justification ‘By Argument’ in Aristotle’s Natural Science
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 51

Joseph Karbowski

Oxford University Press

Aristotle frequently justifies substantive theses in his natural treatises ‘by perception’. However, he often goes out of his way to show that what is clear ‘by perception’ is also clear ‘by argument’ (kata ton logon). This paper argues that in such contexts the latter phrase introduces a particular mode of justification, which justifies substantive scientific theses by appeal to argument (logos). The arguments implicated by this mode of justification support theses by subsuming the immediate subjects of investigation under general principles about the wider kinds to which they belong. This mode of justification is superficially similar to other modes of argument deployed by Aristotle, e.g. dialectical and logikos argumentation, but it is here argued that we must not identify it with dialectical or logikos reasoning. The paper also discusses the evidential status of this mode of justification and Aristotle’s use of it in empirically obscure domains.

Keywords:   Aristotle, natural science, logos, argument, justification, dialectic, logikos, generality, methodology

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