premise

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A premise or premiss is a true or false statement that helps form the body of an
argument An argument is a statement or group of statements called premises intended to determine the degree of truth or acceptability of another statement called conclusion. Arguments can be studied from three main perspectives: the logical, the dialect ...
, which logically leads to a true or false conclusion. A premise makes a declarative statement about its subject matter which enables a reader to either agree or disagree with the premise in question, and in doing so understand the logical assumptions of the argument. If a premise is logically
false False or falsehood may refer to: *False (logic), the negation of truth in classical logic * Lie or falsehood, a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement *false (Unix), a Unix command * ''False'' (album), a 1992 album by Gorefest *M ...
, then the conclusion, which follows from all of the premises of the argument, must also be false—unless the conclusion is supported by a logically valid argument which the reader agrees with. Therefore, if the reader disagrees with any one of the argument's premises, they have a logical basis to reject the conclusion of the argument.

# Explanation

In
logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating how conclusions follow from premi ...
, an
argument An argument is a statement or group of statements called premises intended to determine the degree of truth or acceptability of another statement called conclusion. Arguments can be studied from three main perspectives: the logical, the dialect ...
requires a set of at least two declarative sentences (or "propositions") known as the "premises" (or "premisses"), along with another declarative sentence (or "proposition"), known as the conclusion. This structure of two premises and one conclusion forms the basic argumentative structure. More complex arguments can use a sequence of rules to connect several premises to one conclusion, or to derive a number of conclusions from the original premises which then act as premises for additional conclusions. An example of this is the use of the rules of inference found within symbolic logic.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of p ...
held that any logical argument could be reduced to two premises and a conclusion. Premises are sometimes left unstated, in which case, they are called missing premises, for example:
Socrates is mortal because all men are mortal.
It is evident that a tacitly understood claim is that Socrates is a man. The fully expressed reasoning is thus:
Because all men are mortal and Socrates is a man,
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, Socrates authored no te ...
is mortal.
In this example, the dependent
clauses In language, a clause is a constituent that comprises a semantic predicand (expressed or not) and a semantic predicate. A typical clause consists of a subject and a syntactic predicate, the latter typically a verb phrase composed of a verb with ...
preceding the comma (namely, "all men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man") are the premises, while "Socrates is mortal" is the conclusion. The proof of a conclusion depends on both the
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, ...
of the premises and the validity of the argument. Also, additional information is required over and above the meaning of the premise to determine if the full meaning of the conclusion coincides with what is. For
Euclid Euclid (; grc-gre, Εὐκλείδης; BC) was an ancient Greek mathematician active as a geometer and logician. Considered the "father of geometry", he is chiefly known for the '' Elements'' treatise, which established the foundations of ...
, premises constitute two of the three propositions in a
syllogism A syllogism ( grc-gre, συλλογισμός, ''syllogismos'', 'conclusion, inference') is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true. ...
, with the other being the conclusion. These categorical propositions contain three terms: subject and predicate of the conclusion, and the middle term. The subject of the conclusion is called the minor term while the predicate is the major term. The premise that contains the middle term and major term is called the major premise while the premise that contains the middle term and minor term is called the minor premise. A premise can also be an indicator word if statements have been combined into a logical argument and such word functions to mark the role of one or more of the statements. It indicates that the statement it is attached to is a premise.