Aristotle, and W. Rhys Roberts. Rhetoric. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Book II, chapter 25
Having introduced the genuine and apparent enthymemes, Aristotle now discusses how to refute them. “An argument may be refuted, either by a counter-syllogism or by bringing an objection” (Aristotle II.25, B. 1402a). A contrary syllogism may be constructed by using parallel but differing ideas. An objection can be made in several ways. Aristotle first discusses attacking the opponent’s statement. By this he means pointing out an exception to a universal statement or concept (Aristotle II.25 B. 1402b). It is also possible to show that the opposite of a universal conclusion is not universal. Aristotle calls this “an objection from a contrary statement” (Aristotle II.25, B. 1402b). He then identifies the parallel “objection from a like statement” (Aristotle II.25, B. 1402b). Here the speaker observes that a parallel universal statement may not be true, therefore the opponent’s universal may also not be true.
Aristotle reminds the reader that an enthymeme is based on probability, an example, an infallible sign, or an ordinary sign (Aristotle II.75, B. 1402b). An argument from probability can often be overturned. One from a fallible sign can always be refuted. An argument based on example is susceptible to a counter example. One from an infallible sign cannot be overcome unless it contains a logical fallacy (Aristotle II.25, B. 1403a).