Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kinds of Terms in Logic

According to Bachhuber in his book Introduction to Logic, the term can be classified as univocal, equivocal, and analogous by basing on the term’s relation to more than one inferior.

Univocal Terms

When a term is being applied to their inferiors in the same exact essence, such term is univocal.

For instance,

  • a drum and a piano are both occurrences or inferiors of the term instrument, making it univocal or having only one meaning, which is an object that produces music.
  • The term Filipino is univocal in relation to the Surigaonon, Kagay-anon, ManileƱo, Cebuano, Ilocano, and any other social division of people within the Philippines.
  • Boeing 777 and the stealth bomber B-2 Spirit are instances of the univocal plane, an engine-driven flying vehicle.
Equivocal Terms

When instances are under the same term but of entirely different meaning, the term is equivocal. The term is referred by instances of different meanings.

For example,

  • the term rat applies not only to a long-tailed rodent that is larger than a mouse but also to a person who is deceitful and betrays confidences.
  • A faggot becomes equivocal when applied to the bundle of sticks for firewood and the slang for a gay man. Similarly, the term gay has over the years evolved to adapt a new meaning, that of being homosexual, entirely different from gay as in being merry.
  • Equivocally, a fan can signify the tool for moving air and an enthusiastic admirer of a celebrity or public performer.
Analogous Terms

Terms become analogous when their inferiors are partly the same but also partly different in their use or essence. The emphasis on the analogy of inferiors, in this case called analogues, depends on the degree of their relation with each other and to the general term.

  • Magic is analogous to the sleight of hand or conjuring tricks and illusion and to the fictional magic such as a fireball invoked by a wizard and the dead raised by necromancers. While both are in a way fantasized and admired, the former is done with dexterity and speed to trick the minds of the audience and the latter is supernatural and impossible to perform.
  • The term Filipino can become analogous if it is not just applied to the races but also to the country’s language (Tagalog, Bisaya, etc), and culture (food delicacies, dances, lifestyle, etc). These inferiors in themselves are distinct but all point to identity of the Philippines.
  • The head as in the chief executive officer and the head in a person are both the topmost part of a company and the human body, respectively. They are in some way similar and vital but have no direct resemblance to each other.


Bachhuber, S.J., Andrew H. Introduction to Logic. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1966.

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