# Formal Logic ???

Re: FORMAL LOGIC

Can only share my own sense of things.

There are many millions of people in our world who have no exposure to / or academic training in Formal Logic…at all…none !! Yet these folks are capable of ‘reasoning’ and making ‘reasoned decisions’ about their lives. We know this with certainty because it is happening / unfolding around us all the time…every day.
Clearly, ‘reasoning’ does not depend in any way on Formal Logic. Formal Logic actually seems to be a later development in the great span of human history.

The following is a ‘thought experiment’.

Let’s take an average, standard issue human being (fully capable of ‘reasoning’) and give this person a good education in Formal Logic. Now…What can this person do now that they could not do before ??? ( Besides now being able to use Formal Logic !)
Basically…What does Formal Logic add to our undeniable capacity to reason ??

the ability to communicate those things, math and circuitry skills, and an increased awareness of their tools for reasoning. You’ll find that they more readily make analyses in question.

Formal logic was modeled after human reasoning. So it’s not surprising if people already use basic logic in their everyday lives. However, people are often pretty sloppy with logic as well. I’m sure you’ve learned about fallacies. It’s always good to reinforce correct reasoning. Formal systems of logic allow us to do complex proofs in a mechanic, verifiable, and reproducible way that would be extremely difficult to do in our heads or communicate/explain to others. It’s just a way of standardizing the rules of correct reasoning in an easy to use (and easy to share) format.

Thanks for a thoughtful response. Consider the following…

Language is symbolic. Symbols have no neccessary correspondence with actuality. This is the root of the problem of certainty (truth) in language. It really does come with the territory. In other words…the problem is not that our symbols lack precision / rigor (correctable) it is that our symbols are symbols. (not correctable)
It just isn’t clear to me (as stated…this is my sense of things) how an addtional layer of abstraction (Formal Logic) can be ‘helpful’ when abstraction created the problem in the first place.
Look at our history of Logic and its proponents claims that THIS newest, latest, formal logic will obviate all those pesky ‘language problems’ at last !!! It just hasn’t happened (yet??).
We keep trying the same thing (developing new logic’s) over and over again…expecting a different result.

Formalizing what you can already do is easy, learning, through formalization, lets you learn to do things you can’t already do, more than likely. A person who actually focuses on logic for long enough, will inevitably possess a greater capacity to construct arguments, and therefore be able, in many cases to construct ones big enough to explain away, or assimilate and marginalize alternative views on a given matter.

Do you really think that the average joe is capable of making accurate deductions and calculations on a regular basis? If so at what level? If you mean he can remember how to reason his way to mcdonalds for a double cheeseburger, then maybe, if you think that he can reason his way through any substantive philosophical content, then probably not.

Of course, but this is a fundamental problem over and above formal logic, at the heart of language, communication, and sense representation itself. The limitations you seem to be describing are not uniquely a fault of formal logic, so it is strange to see an argument against the utility of formal logic on these grounds.

Abstraction didn’t create the problem in the first place, subjectivity did, being in the world did. As to the serious limitations of deductive systems: granted. But limitations do not render a thing useless.

That’s fine, no one asked it to be anything else. Formal logic is just the most rigorous kind. Happy now?

Lotsa people can make beautiful music without rules, or practise, or very much technique. Lotsa people can’t. And there is simply some music that cannot be made without advanced technique.

“Our” capacity to reason often needs some work, some help. And “our” thought experiments often need to be more carefully formulated.

Faust I could play the blues and bring tears to your eyes.

I’ve always thought of formal logic as a rhetorical tool–an attempt, if you will, to turn the language of language into the language of mathematics. In mathematics, 1+1=2–irrefutable in our way of thinking. In language, however, 1 apple + 1 orange doesn’t equal either 2 apples or 2 oranges–it equals two fruits.

So, to me, in order to present a formal, logical argument, you have to reach agreement on what constitutes the ‘truth’ of the starting proposition. Otherwise, you can have a perfectly logical argument that’s untrue because it’s based on an untrue, or falsifiable, premise.

Very few people here seem to agree with me, however.

I think that doing what you’re describing is possible, and that it makes sense that you have to make sure the symbols are properly arranged over the referents, but I don’t think that logic, completely done, is a rhetorical tool primarily, if it is, then it’s being used improperly and the whole story isn’t being given.

Ideally, you could quantify everything, and thereby formalize everything, and thereby have a complete, functional quantitative map of the entire matter at hand. By having that map, you have more information than someone who doesn’t, and are more able to address the truths and falsehoods of it.

Most of the time, people say, “that’s not logical”, and what they really mean is, “i’ve done a bit of tinkering around trying to shove your idea into a syllogism I learned freshman year, and because I’m having trouble, you’re not being logical”. To me, “not logical” means, “can’t be quantified”, and since I think everything can be, “not logical” is a misnomer.

In fact, you don’t have to have true premises to present a formal argument. That’s what “formal” means - it’s all about the form, and not about the truth of the premises. And a falsifiable premise is not an untrue one. Logic is a technical field, and is not affected by what it might be “to me”.

Liz, “falsifiable” is a property that means that a proposition has a means to disprove it IF it happens to be false. When something is falsifiable, it generally means that it is true because it means that it can be proven, although perhaps hasn’t been… yet.

You say ‘ideally,’ you can quantify everything–by starting with quantifying words–some, many, for the most part, in some/many instances, and so on. I’ve found that quite a few opening statements aren’t quantified. For example, “DNA from African pygmies indicates a third sub-species of Homosapien. Therefore, evolution of Homosapien sapien can’t have been a clear, linear, progression.”

Am I misunderstanding?

And because it’s all about the form, isn’t logic more about a tool–rhetorical, for no better word. I’m forced into saying things such as “to me,” “in my mind,” “in my opinion,” etc. as a way of both quantifying the statements and making the statement a matter of opinion rather than a statement of fact. I have no facts, I have only suppositions.

If it can be proven, then wouldn’t it be nonfalsifiable?

Philosophy has a jargon which I’m still learning.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. The construction of a logical, or valid argument is not aimed at persuasion, it’s aimed at reasoning. The fields are related, but not identical.

There are facts about logic, if there are facts at all.

Liz that statement can be quantified. You gotta use this big backward “E” to indicate some kinda existential quantification so you can just put another symbol over all the stuff that exists according to your statement, and then you use all kinds of boxes and squiggly lines and whatnot and you’d end up w/ some kinda nice tidy way of showing that your statement is a proper one.

My keyboard doesn’t support symbolic logic–lol All I can do is type words (symbols in themselves.) Again, I see this as a way of arriving at a secondary language–a sort of mathematical language.

Why can’t the first statement, “DNA from African pygmies indicates a third sub-species of Homosapien. Therefore, evolution of Homosapien sapien can’t have been a clear, linear, progression.” be rewritten to say; “DNA from some African pygmies indicates a possible third sub-species of Homosapien. If found to be true, it could mean that evolution of Homosapien sapien may not have been a clear, linear, progression.”

Why does one need to (if one is verbal rather than mathematical) “… use this big backward “E” to indicate some kinda existential quantification so you can just put another symbol over all the stuff that exists according to your statement, and then you use all kinds of boxes and squiggly lines and whatnot and you’d end up w/ some kinda nice tidy way of showing that your statement is a proper one.” ?

Why add

I don’t know why the words, “Why add…” are there–I can’t get rid of them. Liz

So you can analyze the structures of a whole lot of things at one time by generalizing over lots of shit at once. Then you start doing shit like that as kind of a second nature, then the next thing you know stuff in your life goes more smoothly and you have more money and stuff because you don’t do as much sorting and all. It’s like training your brain to do shortcuts all day or something. I’ll be honest with you, I might be able to articulate this, or something entirely different much better in the morning.