Concerning the So-Called Empty Names

  • Izydora Dqmbska
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 119)


The traditional dichotomous division of names into general and singular has been replaced in contemporary logic by a trichotomous division: general, singular, and empty. As Professor Kotarbiéski says in Gnosiology, “There are singular terms, which denote one and only one object, there are general terms, which denote more than one object, and there are empty terms, which denote no objects at all”.1 We usually find cited as examples of empty names such self-contradictory names as ‘square circle’ or ‘son of a childless mother’, or names of mythical deities — fictitious figures that exist only in legends, poems, novels, etc. The singling out of empty names is important in the structure of logical calculus, and especially that part of it which the handbooks of logic term traditional logic. This logic, granted the traditional interpretation of propositions in the square of opposition, proves in tota valid only with regard to those propositions which do not include empty names.


Singular Term Traditional Logic Logical Calculus Dialectical Materialist Greek Mythology 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted from the English language version of Kotarbiéski’s handbook (first published in 1929), Gnosiology, Pergamon Press 1966, p. 7.Google Scholar
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    This is also done in contemporary logic, where propositions from the square of opposition are interpreted as conditionals.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cf. K. Ajdukiewicz, Logiczne podstawy nauczania (The Logical Foundations of Teaching), Lwów 1934, p. 24.Google Scholar

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© PWN — Polish Scientific Publishers — Warszawa 1979

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  • Izydora Dqmbska

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