16 What is Logic?

Knachel, Matthew, "Fundamental Methods of Logic" (2017). Philosophy Faculty Books. 1. http://dc.uwm.edu/phil_facbooks/1

What Is Logic?

In Logic, the object of study is reasoning. This is an activity that humans engage in—when we make claims and back them up with reasons, or when we make inferences about what follows from a set of statements. Like many human activities, reasoning can be done well, or it can be done badly. The goal of logic is to distinguish good reasoning from bad. Good reasoning is not necessarily effective reasoning; in fact, as we shall see, bad reasoning is pervasive and often extremely effective—in the sense that people are often persuaded by it. In Logic, the standard of goodness is not effectiveness in the sense of persuasiveness, but rather correctness according to logical rules. In logic, we study the rules and techniques that allow us to distinguish good, correct reasoning from bad, incorrect reasoning. Since there is a variety of different types of reasoning, since it’s possible to develop various methods for evaluating each of those types, and since there are different views on what constitutes correct reasoning, there are many approaches to the logical enterprise. We talk of logic, but also of logics. A logic is just a set of rules and techniques for distinguishing good reasoning from bad.  The object of study in logic is human reasoning, with the goal of distinguishing the good from the bad. It is important to note that this approach sets logic apart from an alternative way of studying human reasoning, one more proper to a different discipline: psychology. It is possible to study human reasoning in a merely descriptive mode: to identify common patterns of reasoning and explore their psychological causes, for example. This is not logic. Logic takes up reasoning in a prescriptive mode: it tells how we ought to reason, not merely how we in fact typically do.




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What is Logic? Copyright © 2020 by Knachel, Matthew, "Fundamental Methods of Logic" (2017). Philosophy Faculty Books. 1. http://dc.uwm.edu/phil_facbooks/1 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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