Re: Grice . . .)

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Mon Sep 21 1998 - 14:29:32 EDT

On Mon, 21 Sep 1998 10:09:13 -0500 John Baima <>


>BTW, one of the things that got me going on all this is the assertion
>some conditionals "assume the protasis false for the sake of argument."
>This is a nonsensical statement since no inference can be made from a
>negative protasis. Inferences can only be made from a positive
>protasis or a false apodosis.


I found your statement "assume the protasis false for the sake of
somewhat confusing. Was this an actual quote, or did you really mean
something like, "assume a false statement to be true for the sake of
argument"? The latter is the normal pattern when the "proof by
contradiction" approach is being used. The idea, of course, is to show
the assumption leads to a contradiction of what one knows to be true.
This, then, implies the assumption is false, and its contradiction (what
one is
trying to prove) is necessarily true, since A and not A cannot both be
true (law of noncontradiction).

Furthermore, your statement "no inference can be made by a negative
protasis" seems contradicted by Paul's repeated usage of the proof by
contradiction argumentation in 1 Cor 15:13, 14, 16, 17, and 19, where
we have EI ... OUK, OUDE; EI ... OUK, ARA; EI ... OUK, OUDE; EI ...
OUK; etc., respectively. He surely infers conclusions based upon
negative protases here, does he not?

Paul Dixon

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