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Christine Ladd-Franklin: Reducer of Syllogisms

[ photo: Christine Ladd-Franklin ]

Reducer of Syllogisms

Christine Ladd-Franklin, class of 1869, mathematician, logician, and psychologist, applied to Johns Hopkins for graduate study in mathematics before the university accepted women and completed the requirements for the doctorate, which Johns Hopkins finally awarded 44 years later. At Johns Hopkins, she became interested in two other fields, to which she made significant contributions - logic and the theory of vision. An article in the New York Times (June 24, 1922) described her contribution to the field of logic thus: "Addressing herself to the ancient problem of the transformation of the syllogism, she evolved her 'inconsistent triad,' apropos of which Josiah Royce of Harvard said: `This system, although independently approached by several investigators, was never fully demonstrated until, in 1881, in an extremely technical paper in the Johns Hopkins University studies in logic, Mrs. Ladd-Franklin worked out the whole method. There is no reason why this should not be accepted as the definite solution to the problem of the reduction of syllogisms. It is rather remarkable that the crowning activity in a field worked over since the days of Aristotle should be the achievement of an American woman.'"

Photo credit: Ferdinand Hamburger Archives of The Johns Hopkins University