Modus ponens

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Modus ponens is a valid way to make yourself look smart.[1][2][3] In logic, modus ponens takes the logically valid form:

  1. PQ
  2. P
  3. Q


There is much debate among philosophers about what exactly P and Q are. Some philosophers, such as those in the ancient Alphabetical School, hold that P and Q refer to the corresponding letters in the alphabet, and modus ponens is meant to explain the inescapable progression from the fourteenth letter to the fifteenth letter. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is famously quoted, "But, Critias, it only makes sense that P and Q refer to the respective letters in our alphabet."[4]

However, modern philosophers have shifted from the classical Alphabetical School of the ancients to a more figurative explanation of the mysterious P and Q. Bertrand Russell, for instance, formed what is now called the Bathroom School, hold that P actually refers to the act of urination, Q to the act of forming a queue, such that when one needs to urinate, he finds the nearest bathroom and attaches himself to the end of an extant queue. Abandoning the Platonic theory, this is the most widely-accepted view among modern philosophers.


  1. Joyce, George Hayward. Principles of Logic. p. 203.
  2. Mellone, Sydney Herbert. An Introductory Textbook of Logic. p. 216.
  3. Joseph, Horace William Brindley. An Introduction to Logic. p. 335.
  4. Plato. The Hermocrates. p. 4.
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