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25. Next to what has been said we must speak of refutation. An argument may be refuted either by a counter-syllogism1 or by bringing an objection. [2] It is clear that the same topics may furnish counter-syllogisms; for syllogisms are derived from probable materials and many probabilities are contrary to one another. [3] An objection is brought, as shown in the Topics, in four ways: it may be derived either from itself,2 or from what is similar, or from what is contrary, or from what has been decided. [4] In the first case, if for instance the enthymeme was intended to prove that love is good,
two objections might be made; either the general statement that all want3 is bad, or in particular, that Caunian love4 would not have become proverbial, unless some forms of love had been bad. [5] An objection from what is contrary is brought if, for instance, the enthymeme is that the good man does good to all his friends; it may be objected: But the bad man does not do harm [to all his friends].5 [6] An objection from what is similar is brought, if the enthymeme is that those who have been injured always hate, by arguing that those who have been benefited do not always love. [7] The fourth kind of objection is derived from the former decisions of well-known men. For instance, if the enthymeme is that one should make allowance for those who are drunk, for their offence is the result of ignorance, it may be objected that Pittacus then is unworthy of commendation, otherwise he would not have laid down severer punishment for a man who commits an offence when drunk.

[8] Now the material of enthymemes is derived from four sources—probabilities, examples, necessary signs, and signs. Conclusions are drawn from probabilities, when based upon things which most commonly occur or seem to occur; from examples, when they are the result of induction from one or more similar cases, and when one assumes the general and then concludes the particular by an example; from necessary signs, when based upon that which is necessary and ever6 exists; from signs, when their material is the general or
the particular, whether true or not. Now, the probable being not what occurs invariably but only for the most part, it is evident that enthymemes of this character can always be refuted by bringing an objection. [9] But the objection is often only apparent, not real; for he who brings the objection endeavors to show, not that the argument is not probable, but that it is not necessary. [10] Wherefore, by the employment of this fallacy, the defendant always has an advantage over the accuser. For since the latter always bases his proof upon probabilities, and it is not the same thing to show that an argument is not probable as to show that it is not necessary, and that which is only true for the most part is always liable to objection (otherwise it would not be probable, but constant and necessary),—then the judge thinks, if the refutation is made in this manner,7 either that the argument is not probable, or that it is not for him to decide,8 being deceived by the fallacy, as we have just indicated. For his judgement must not rest upon necessary arguments alone, but also upon probabilities; for this is what is meant by deciding according to the best of one's judgement. It is therefore not enough to refute an argument by showing that it is not necessary; it must also be shown that it is not probable. This will be attained if the objection itself is specially based upon what happens generally. [11] This may take place in two ways, from consideration either of the time or of the facts.9 The strongest objections are those in which both are combined;
for a thing is more probable, the greater the number of similar cases.

[12] Signs and enthymemes based upon signs, even if true, may be refuted in the manner previously stated10; for it is clear from the Analytics11 that no sign can furnish a logical conclusion. [13] As for enthymemes derived from examples, they may be refuted in the same manner as probabilities. For if we have a single fact that contradicts the opponent's example, the argument is refuted as not being necessary, even though examples, more in number and of more common occurrence, are otherwise12; but if the majority and greater frequency of examples is on the side of the opponent, we must contend either that the present example is not similar to those cited by him, or that the thing did not take place in the same way, or that there is some difference. [14] But necessary signs and the enthymemes derived from them cannot be refuted on the ground of not furnishing a logical conclusion, as is clear from the Analytics13; the only thing that remains is to prove that the thing alleged is non-existent. But if it is evident that it is true and that it is a necessary sign, the argument at once becomes irrefutable; for, by means of demonstration, everything at once becomes clear.14

1 In which the contrary of an opponent's conclusion is proved.

2 i.e., the opponent's enthymeme.

3 Love is regarded as a desire, and therefore as bad as any other desire. It is here included under the general head of want.

4 Incest: Ovid Met. 9.454.

5 The contrary of “good men do good to all their friends” is “bad men do harm to all their friends,” but this is not always true. Jebb gives the objection as: “No, the bad man does not do evil to all his enemies.”

6 Translating ἀεί inserted by Vahlen before ὄντος.

7 That is, if the argument is shown to be not “necessary.”

8 The important point in the conclusion drawn is that the judge thinks it is not his business to decide, because the argument is not necessary, whereas his duty is to decide, not about things that are necessary but about things that are probable.

9 χρόνῳ . . . πράγμασιν. If χρόνῳ be taken to mean the date, there are the following alternatives. The date may be questioned, the facts admitted; both date and facts may be questioned; both date and facts may be admitted, but circumstances may have altered (a pound was worth twenty shillings in 1914, not in 1924). Others take χρόνῳ to mean the greater number of times the same fact has occurred, πράγμασι the more numerous facts that increase probability. But χρόνῳ can hardly bear this meaning (see Jebb's note).

10 1.2.18; or, “at the beginning,” i.e., of this book.

11 Aristot. Pr. Anal. 2.27.

12 On the other side, in the opponent's favor.

13 Aristot. Pr. Anal. 2.27.

14 That is, “when the tekmērion is converted into a syllogism.” For tekmērion see 1.2.16.

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