We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Book review: 'Articulating medieval logic' by Terence Parsons. (Oxford: OUP, 2014. Pp. 352. Price £50.00.).

Uckelman, Sara L. (2016) 'Book review: 'Articulating medieval logic' by Terence Parsons. (Oxford: OUP, 2014. Pp. 352. Price £50.00.).', Philosophical quarterly., 66 (263). pp. 432-435.


Medieval logic can often ‘seem to consist of a variety of unsystematic and disparate remarks, and it is not at all obvious whether or how they fit together’ (p. 1). In this ambitious book, Terence Parsons seeks to demonstrate how ‘medieval logic can […] be seen as a group of theories and practices clustered around a core theory which is a paradigm of logic; this theory consists of a number of widely known principles, all of which can be derived from a very simple core of rules and axioms’ (p. 1). Starting from the beginning—that is, Aristotle—Parsons takes the reader from the semantics of the simplest categorical (subject-predicate) statements through a semi-formal notation called ‘Linguish’ (a mix of Latin and English, plus some symbols), to the modes of personal supposition, and eventually to complex statements involving tenses, relatives, anaphora, and other phenomena; along the way, comparisons with contemporary logic and lingusitic theory are regularly made. Because the Organon provided the foundation for developments in the Middle Ages, Parsons begins with Aristotelian logic in ch. 1, presenting not so much Aristotle's views per se but rather what the theory of categorical sentences and syllogisms looked like to medieval logicians (p. 6). This approach focuses on the structure of categorical sentences and arguments, and mostly glosses over questions about what makes these sentences true (though see pp. 9 and 10). In ch. 2, the basic building blocks are extended to categorical sentences which have quantified predicates, predicates which are singular terms, and negative terms, all of which require special analyses, and were explicitly dealt with by medieval authors. The next two chapters are primarily modern in orientation, introducing a new notation, called ‘Linguish’ for representing explicitly the sentence types (‘logical forms’) and proof rules discussed in chs 1 …

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Philosophical Quarterly following peer review. The version of record Uckelman, Sara L. (2016). Book Review: Articulating Medieval Logic by Terence Parsons. Philosophical Quarterly 66(263): 432-435 is available online at:
Date accepted:09 June 2015
Date deposited:15 June 2015
Date of first online publication:02 July 2015
Date first made open access:02 July 2017

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar