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Onus of proof in Aristotle

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Would someone provide a reference for where exactly Aristotle discusses the "onus of proof" principle?

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Also, did he discus the impossibility of proving a negative? I'd like a reference to that, too, if it's in a different place. : )

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When I try to look it up in search engines, all I get is Objectivist and random atheist sites talking about Aristotle's Onus of Proof, but no actual quotes from Aristotle. : /

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Would someone provide a reference for where exactly Aristotle discusses the "onus of proof" principle?

Pretty please? :)

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Would someone provide a reference for where exactly Aristotle discusses the "onus of proof" principle?

Suggestions:

1. Try searching for "burden of proof" in connection to Aristotle.

2. Look for Aristotle discussion sites (perhaps the "slow reading" kind), go to them, and ask the people there, people who are much more familiar with Aristotle that most people here.

I will spend a little time looking through Sophistical Refutations, his work on fallacies. The detailed index lists nothing for burden of proof or onus of proof or even proof.

Have you checked the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy at your local university or big public library?

Have you done a search for the phrases on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or other online philosophical dictionaries?

Have you asked your local librarians, if they have a search service, for help in locating the idea of "burden of proof"?

Have you examined the Oxford English Dictionary to see if it cites a source for the phrase -- if it lists the phrase (perhaps under "burden" or "onus")?

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Another source you might examine is William Kneale and Martha Kneale, The Development of Logic, a detailed examination of the "development" (history) of logic from before Aristotle to modern times (I vaguely recall). The Kneales do discuss issues of the source of such ideas as "burden of proof," but whether they consider that one in particular, I don't know. Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy of their book.

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Would someone provide a reference for where exactly Aristotle discusses the "onus of proof" principle?

I doubt you will find the 'onus of proof principle' enunciated by Aristotle directly as such, but the general idea is apparent in several parts of his writings. For instance, in Metaphysics, Book XI, Aristotle states:

As for those to whom the difficulties mentioned are suggested by reasoning, it is not easy to solve the difficulties to their satisfaction, unless they will posit something and no longer demand a reason for it; for it is only thus that all reasoning and all proof is accomplished; if they posit nothing, they destroy discussion and all reasoning. Therefore with such men there is no reasoning.

And in Rhetoric, Book III:

A speech has two parts. You must state your case, and you must prove it. You cannot either state your case and omit to prove it, or prove it without having first stated it; since any proof must be a proof of something, and the only use of a preliminary statement is the proof that follows it. Of these two parts the first part is called the Statement of the case, the second part the Argument, just as we distinguish between Enunciation and Demonstration.

[...]

The duty of the Arguments is to attempt demonstrative proofs. These proofs must bear directly upon the question in dispute, which must fall under one of four heads. (1) If you maintain that the act was not committed, your main task in court is to prove this. (2) If you maintain that the act did no harm, prove this. If you maintain that (3) the act was less than is alleged, or (4) justified, prove these facts, just as you would prove the act not to have been committed if you were maintaining that.

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I doubt you will find the 'onus of proof principle' enunciated by Aristotle directly as such, but the general idea is apparent in several parts of his writings. For instance, in Metaphysics, Book XI, Aristotle states:

And in Rhetoric, Book III:

Thank you very much for these quotes. They are fascinating, and I look forward to reading the whole passages when I get a chance.

Have you checked the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy at your local university or big public library?

Have you done a search for the phrases on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or other online philosophical dictionaries?

Thanks for the recommendations. I was not aware of these reference tools, but they sound very interesting and useful. Also, it hadn't occurred to me that there might be Aristotle discussion sites as there are ones for Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

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